Pickle Jar takes us on the journey of an egocentrically flawed central character as she struggles to find her place in the world. Plagued by a lack of confidence, she is just about surviving as an English teacher in this one-woman play written and performed by Maddie Rice. Rice’s character is overshadowed by her best friend and colleague, a jolly Irish woman whose idea of a good time is getting ‘fingered in the smoking section of ‘Spoons’. Conversely, Rice’s character is a prudish, inexperienced singleton who aspires to the confidence displayed by the teens she is responsible for teaching.
Combining humour, drama and a sprinkling of mime to create a safe platform on which to smatter some more serious issues
This concept, created by Maddie Rice and Katie Peskin, is innovative in itself. It combines humour, drama and a sprinkling of mime to create a safe platform on which to smatter some more serious issues, including rape and suicide. I enjoyed the idea of what Rice and Peskin are trying to achieve; however the scene setting takes much too long and I was almost lost in the meagre malaise of a woman searching for love, when I was suckerpunched by the more serious issues. This could have been a purposeful and ingenious technique on the part of the creators - however it felt like the more serious material and deeper messages were then crammed in at the end. To elevate the performance, elongating the time available to give sufficient time to explore the suicide of her pupil and the mental decline the central character faces would be useful, as well as the theme of guilt which sees her eventually completely mentally unravel.
There are a few gaps, for example what did happen to the plant? And what was the purpose of Raj, the Scottish shopkeeper? In general, I'd have liked more opportunity to explore how Rice's character developed - the liminal journey was cut short just as it was developing.
What can't be faulted is Rice's performance, which was slick and word perfect. She remained calm and virtually unaffected as an unplanned fire alarm went off, and confidently utilised the whole of the stage to ensure a production which physically moved with the pace of the story she was telling. An hour of creative theatre which will undoubtedly sell out toward the end of the run.