Review and Podcast By: Ronnie Ruff
The Disappearance of Janey Jones — The Hatchery Festival
Janey Jones never disappears during this wonderful new play mounted at the 2nd annual Hatchery Festival at DCAC, in fact she is all over the stage because Janey is her grandmother and her mother before her. A victim of bi polar disorder, Janey’s grandmother commits suicide in a lonely home for the aged. Janey, depressed herself struggles with her doctors diagnosis of her depression and her family history. Can she get control and attend the funeral? Is she destined to live her life taking pills and sleeping constantly or will she live her life as it should be?
This is a well paced bittersweet drama that has its moments of sadness and humor but more than that it has genuine characters that are familiar but at the same time fresh. Young Janey played by Gwen Grastorf is every bit as good a portrayal by an adult of a child as I have seen in recent memory. Eliza Bell as Janey is fragile yet strong in a role that calls for just that. Eric Messner who is becoming one of my favorite local actors does his usual great job of nailing the part he is given and taking it to a level that is just fantastic. Ahhh… and then there is Frank Britton who steals this show as the fortune teller and Janey’s doctor. Mr. Britton is able to add just the right amount of comedy to the mix without taking away from the serious subject matter.
The Disappearance of Janey Jones written by Jennifer Fawcett is directed by Allison Arkell Stockman and her tight control of the many actor entrances and departures in the small DCAC space is dizzying but well done. It is obvious that all involved with the play went to great lengths to make sure of its success. Lighting by David C Ghatan a Rorschach company member was of his usual high performance standards.
A mention needs to be made of the overall dedication of the people involved with the Hatchery Festival to give the three plays they are workshopping this year a full production that is intended to give the play every chance at success. Quality people from the actors to the directors and technical artists all seem to work in a single direction that ends in success. Even the festivals marketing with it’s glossy website designed by two of the producers and consultant Lindsay Allen (a fantastic actor) who obviously worked hard behind the scenes. The show I attended on Friday night was sold out and some were turned away.
The folks involved have one single thing in common, the desire to make a difference and it shows.
Also listen to a PODCAST done with the producers here