🎭 Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me
📍 The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR
🗓 Tuesday 20th June 2023
A EUPHORIC DECENT INTO MADNESS
Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me currently playing in The Drum at Theatre Royal Plymouth surpassed all my expectations last night.
As we entered the auditorium Jack Stokes was already on stage as Daniel Valentine and was wandering around a dilapidated living room which featured boarded up windows and bin bags which were overflowing with clothes, while he was wearing only boxer shorts and an oversized shirt.
There is the element of the cherub about him as he rather enthusiastically tells us his story. We learn of his three loves. His first is his mother, and there is something of Norman Bates about him as he describes his relationship with her. His second love is the church which, led by Reverend Birch, helped to raise him and provided necessities for him and his mother.
Far eclipsing both of these though is his third love. Jane. In Jane's presence Daniel reaches a level of euphoria and ascension never achieved through the church. He lists his two favourite Messiah's as Jesus and Jane! The Jane in question? That would be cruising queen Jane McDonald!
This darkly witty coming-of-age story looks at fanaticism and what happens when it goes too far. When Jane is cruelly taken away from him, he elegantly describes the feelings of grief that he feels.
Daniel is 18 and has not had an easy life, although still manages to tell his story in a jovial, yet eccentric way. He has been bullied by classmates and teachers and when he turned 16 was unceremoniously thrown out by his mother, who by this time had replaced her love for her son and for Jane with an abusive relationship and substance abuse.
The writing and direction by Philip Stokes is phenomenal and the raw talent of the younger Stokes (actor Jack is Philip's son!) propels this production to incredible heights. He is a sensational narrator, is fully engaging from start to finish and has constant, and at times almost uncomfortable, eye contact with the audience.
There are lots of plot twists in this story. Some you see coming from the start, and others catch you unaware as the hilarity starts to fade and you see into the soul of Daniel and really feel his sadness.
This play deserves to have a bright future and I have no doubt that Jack Stokes is a name that will be known by everyone. The talent that he has carries this play as he flawlessly embodies his character.
It was a shame that there were so many empty seats in the auditorium. I wonder if the marketing for this production needs some work. I wasn't sure about the play at all before I attended and had I not been invited then I probably wouldn't have been inspired to buy a ticket. Yet, I found myself completely mesmerised by this piece and if I hadn't have left for London this morning I would probably be booking for a second visit this week.
There are some dark themes throughout this piece, but they are handled sensitively, and may audience members had tears in their eyes.
Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me is playing in Plymouth until Saturday. Head to www.theatreroyal.com to check availability and book tickets.
If like me you are hesitant about this, please put that aside and give it a chance. You won't be disappointed.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.
My ticket for this performance was gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to review the production. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in my star rating or the content of my review.
Acted by Jack Stokes; Written and Directed by Philip Stokes
RUNNING TIME (approx):
70 minutes with no interval
Dark themes and references to addiction and suicide
The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the largest and most attended regional producing theatre in the country.