This weekend’s drama barn production (produced by Emily Sillett and directed by Polly Jordan) is Jezebel. The play features a couple whose relationship is quickly losing spice (Alan and Robin, played by Sam Zak and Britt respectively) and Jezebel (played by Anna Mawn), a slightly clumsy woman searching for love. The solution concocted by Robin (and unwittingly participated in by Jezebel) is to have a threesome, but (big surprise here) the encounter causes rather more problems than expected.
The play is intermittently very funny and the method of narration, whereby whichever member of the three person cast is not in the scene sits behind the main stage and narrates the motives and actions of the other characters, proves a successful tool. The result is a dynamic production, in which the cast move fluidly between scenes without leaving the stage (if memory serves me rightly, with one brief exception, all three cast members remain on stage for the play’s whole duration, making the play, if nothing else, an impressive act of endurance). Similarly, the cast’s representation of their surroundings – such as Alan reaching up for an imaginary hand rail, while he and Robin evoke both the movement of a bus, as well as an implication of it being cramped – was at all times effective. On the flip side of this, Sam Zak’s extremely energetic and purposefully awkward portrayal of Alan proved at times to be slightly overdone.
The minimalistic set seems particularly worthy of praise; a series of white triangles stretch across the floor and the walls, with a large central triangle denoting the main area of the stage. Other than this, the set consists solely of a sofa, a table and some chairs for the cast to sit on while taking on the role of narrator. In this environment one might expect the production to be limited to just a few locations. However, with one slightly glaring exception, when a fake pregnancy belly is put on without any attempt to hide the process, the cast managed to keep the set dynamic and almost entirely avoided breaking my immersion in the play.
The play’s abrupt and engaging opening, in which Alan and Robin break up with their previous partners, simultaneously in dialogue with each other and the audience, begins as a witty parody of what were clearly disastrous relationships. However, it slowly degrades into a series of escalating, yet slightly less effective, statements. This seems to be the play’s biggest weakness: while its use of staging and the difference between what each character is aware of, creates (and indeed satisfies) plenty of opportunities for humour, it seems to rely slightly too much on double entendre and the occasional weaker joke. In spite of this, the production was highly enjoyable and is well worth a visit.