Bethany Fox’s script explores the relationship between two jobbing actors, Jess (Bethany Fox) and Jack(Oliver Burkill), who, after a chemistry-charged first meeting outside an audition, never find the time to properly ask each other out.
A lyrical romantic journey which delivers a sensitive message.
It is a sensitive piece of theatre written in flexible verse. There are some assonant mid-line congruencies in the dialogue, and when these happen there is a feel of a nascent poetic voice. However, there is a clear written focus on securing end rhymes, some of which are pleasing, and some of which feel over-contrived, which can create a distance between the audience and Fox’s poetic/romantic universe. On the whole, the poetry never fully develops into the colourful argosy of language and layered sounds that are emblematic of romance. As Jess and Jack fully begin to recognise the intensity of their feelings for each other, the poetry is almost a hindrance to how they wish to articulate themselves.
Fox’s writing understands the vulnerabilities and realities of being an emerging creative in London. Money is always scarce, and if a job pays for the train ticket to the next audition, then it is a job worth doing. Jess and Jack work any jobs they can to keep themselves solvent whilst pursuing their dreams. One of our first visions of Jack is as a placard bearer on a street-corner. The rhythm of Fox’s poetry transposes well into the language of advertising, and thrives upon repeated words, short-sentence structures, and the articulation of imperative (which, later, becomes emotional imperative).
There is growing awareness and discussion about the necessity for creatives to take on work elsewhere, in order to fund their lifestyles and ‘other’ career. It’s really satisfying to see that reflected in Fox’s script. None of the jobs or activities that Jess and Jack engage in is funny because of what the jobs are – at no point is the audience led into laughing at a paid role. Instead, humour is created by character reactions and by the articulation of frustrations.
The ending of the play straddles several scenes and condensing these may help with the running time. Similarly, letting the poetic voice thrive more – and playing with form in order to do so, may unlock more room for the characters’ dialogue to feel natural, rather than channelled into hitting certain rhyming sounds. The story of Jess and Jack is no doubt one playing across cities all over the world right now, and Fox has crafted a lyrical romantic journey which delivers a sensitive message about the value we place upon our dreams.
This play was presented by Threedumb Theatre as part of their Six Plays, One Day event at the Tristan Bates Theatre on 9th February, 2019.