Theatre Review: “See Jane Quit”
Mark Twain once said “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” And as a former smoker I understand the cravings experienced by titular character Jane, played by Maggie Bavolack, in “See Jane Quit,” a play by Beth Kander and directed by Melissa Rayford for TheatreLAB.
Jane, a waitress who works the night shift, has been smoking for years. When we meet her, she has decided that she is going to give it up, for good this time. Jane’s family is of course thrilled at the prospect and want to support Jane in her efforts.
Jane lives with her grandmother Bessie, played by Linda Beringer, a conservative Southern Belle who’s hearing has begun to go. Jane and Bessie are frequently visited by Jane’s brother James, played by Adam Powell Mincks, and his wife Diane, played by Louise Mason, who is also Jane’s best friend.
The morning Jane makes the big announcement, Diane has stopped by to grab a coffee and gossip before work. We find out Jane has being dating one of her regulars at the restaurant Charles, played by Chandler Hubbard, and that her desire to start a relationship with him is the impetus to her trying to quit smoking.
With all Jane’s exciting news, Jane’s family is terrified to stress her out for fear she may start smoking again. This leads to a hilarious course of events as it becomes clear that nearly everyone in Jane’s life is hiding something from her. As her loved ones try to avoid spilling their secrets, we find that Jane has a big secret of her own she’s been hiding.
Bavolack and Hubbard are the standouts of this production. Bavolack is charming as Jane. Their on-stage relationship is endearing and they have great chemistry. Hubbard’s physical comedy is really fun to watch. He has great timing, is genuine and just really likable. Hubbard is one of those actors who makes everyone that’s in a scene with him, better. His performance feels effortless.
The rest of the cast gives strong performances, but I feel as if they were holding back. The physical comedy piece is there, however there is a level of cheesiness to Kander’s script which must be fully embraced. Bavolack and Hubbard seem to understand their character’s emotions and fully commit to those sentiments which ups the level of authenticity in their performances.
The set is very simple, as it must be due to the fact that it must be dismantled after every show. I found the staging for this production to be very innovative, the audience sort of surrounds the set with chairs on either side of the action creating a unique viewing experience. It’s neat to think that you could attend a different performance, sit on the other side, and see the action from a completely different perspective.
“See Jane Quit” is playing through December 15th at RVA Event Space.
www.seejanequit.brownpapertickets.com for information
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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