A gray brick wall interrupted by two black velvet curtains, and a bare stage offer the setting for an other-worldly place, between Heaven and Hell, somewhere on Earth. A man bursts through one of the curtains and faces the audience, a confused look on his face. He’s got black pants tucked into large brown boots, and he’s wearing a white ruffled shirt. A sword with a caged handle dangles from his leather belt.
Who is this man? No one seems to know, not even him. He reaches deep into his brain, first searching for his name and then for language itself. Each new word he speaks, he repeats and marvels over. He’s clearly discovering language. Finally he decides his name. Jack. And he wants to know why he was brought back.
The basic idea behind I, Jack, am the Knave of Hearts centers around what would happen if Don Juan were returned from Hell to his Earthly body.
Mostly, Jack is attempting to both understand why he’s found himself alive again (and on a stage, no less) while trying to remember a life long forgotten. His musings range from the vulgar — “I’m still naked, my wanger half-hard, glistening from her bounty” — to the thoughtful — “Hell is eternity with nothing to be aware of, nothing to be aware with.” His language is similarly sporadic, spotted with archaic phrases and new-age slang.
B. Stanley, who plays Jack, offers this near hour-long monologue to the audience, occasionally using pantomime to indicate sword fights or love making.
Closes April 6, 2013
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Though it begins slowly, as he remembers how to speak, the play ends somewhat abruptly. Jack himself doesn’t seem to come away with much in the way of any revelation, and the question he’d been trying to answer becomes a burning one in the audience’s collective mind: Why has this man been brought back from the bowels of Hell? Mostly, it seems so that he can continue to cavort, drink and kill. For divine miracle, this seems like fairly weak reasoning.
Stanley plays Jack with gusto, though the character remains inherently unlikeable (Jack seems to growl more often than not, which can become downright off-putting). Jack certainly seems to have a good time once he runs through his memories of murder, adultery and general tomfoolery. The audience, sadly, does not.
I, Jack, am the Knave of Hearts by John Carter . Performed and directed by B. Stanley . Produced by Theatre Du Jour . Reviewed by Travis M. Andrews
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