John & Jen @ Chapel Off Chapel
Director, Mark Taylor, asks us ‘How much of who you are as an adult relates to who you were raised to be as a child?’ in the program of PURSUED BY BEAR’s 2015 show John & Jen. One would also be wise to ask the question, `How far can you go to protect the one you love?’
This is a show with a lot of ground to cover and throughout the fast-paced 40 odd years the piece spans, every aspect of the relationship between an elder sister and her ‘baby brother’, a mother and her son is explored and played out through a succinct libretto and deft under-scoring. M.D. Tyson Legg’s 3 piece band creates a rich and textured sound. Though the constant packing/unpacking of props was somewhat distracting, the space itself was very cleverly used.
On the back of her own full length show, Jaclyn Devincentis (Jen) tackles the demanding role of the rebellious older sister Jen with gusto and warmth but really comes into her own in the second act where she evolves from well-intentioned protective sister to well-intentioned overbearing mother. Her performance of ‘Just Like You’ showcases her strength and vulnerability and though it may not stop the show like ‘The Road Ends Here’ it is a major highlight which connects her to the role and to the audience.
Brenton Cosier (John) is an efficient character actor who convincingly transforms from child to adult with ease. His strength is also shown in the second act as a child packing his bag for camp in the song ‘Bye Room’, this charming characterization enchants the audience allowing them to empathise with his situation. His ability to transform is further highlighted in the song ‘Talk Show’ where his rapid-fire character changes provide some light hearted relief at a pivotal point in the story.
John & Jen is sure to appeal to those who enjoy an intimate, thought-provoking musical theatre experience, which engages our memory of family in every sense of the word.
John & Jen is playing 18-27 September in Melbourne. See more online.
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