LAUGHABLE MISFORTUNES AND BOLD COMMENTARY
How is it that Jitters, the hysterically funny tale about the trials and tribulations of staging a play, can feel astonishingly fresh three decades after making its debut? Its remarkable shelf life is easily attributed to playwright David French’s keen sense of dramatic silliness. But a cast of nine punctuating comedic tension is really what gives the backstage farce such a novel feel.
Everyone’s on edge in this play within a play that uses bickering performers—some in full panic mode—trying to get a play ready for opening night. Rehearsals are not going well and a hot shot American theatre critic making the trip north of the border could have them packing their bags for Broadway if they manage to pull it off.
The odds are not in their favour due to a short fused Patrick (Geordie Johnson) and self absorbed Jessica (Diane D’Aquila) exchanging ego jabs whenever opportunity will allow. Phil (Oliver Dennis) is dealing with his distinct blend of insecurities with George (Kevin Bundy) making sure the adrenalin rush doesn’t derail the production.
Everything that can go wrong ultimately does in this irreverent comedy and absurdity loyalist Ted Dykstra reminds playgoers that life’s most laughable misfortunes have team building benefits. The director’s vivid staging is propped up by the notion that anxiety is an energy that—if harnessed properly—can deliver momentous results.
David French’s satirical look at a dysfunctional stage family makes bold commentary on risk, failure, and theatre critics. The presence of such undertones proves that intellect has a rightful place in a folly fuelled storyline.
The richly theatrical and deeply satisfying Jitters reigns as one of the summer’s hottest comedies. Missing this one would just be nervy.
Review by Steven Berketo
JITTERS by David French March 3 – April 6, 2016 YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto TICKETS $35.00 – $89.00 www.soulpepper.ca 416-866-8666 CAST Kevin Bundy, Diane D’Aquila, Oliver Dennis, Geordie Johnson, Sophia Walker, Jordan Pettle, Alex Fuber, Mike Ross and Sarah Wilson DIRECTOR Ted Dykstra SET & COSTUMES Patrick Clark SOUND DESIGN Creighton Doane LIGHTING Bonnie Beecher ALEXANDER COACH Kelly McEvenue STAGE MANAGER Robert Harding