Mary is recording herself on a smart phone. It might be for her children, it might be for the networks. The middle aged woman is conflicted. She quotes, It’s an accumulation of insignificant things like this that has made me the person I am. Perhaps she’s talking about missed signs/masked messages from her oh, so perfect husband Jack. “How could you just sit there for ten years?” everyone incredulously asks Mary. Her daughter Flo is apoplectic.
Ninety-five per cent of the show is in praise of her husband, though Mary acknowledges his control over “that dazzling listening face.” Jack customizes it, bright or dark, attentive, sympathetic. It always serves him. He has a reputation as husband, father, friend, lawyer, citizen, yet we know an ax will fall from the start. “He didn’t beat me up or the children. For 26 years he made me his sweetheart.” That “Jack was kind” is a defense.
Tracy Thorne is a terrific actress. She holds her internal focus and our attention. Mary’s story is topical. What kind of responsibility does a wife have for her husband’s actions? Should she speak up and betray him for the greater good? The latter consideration is not articulated and it takes so long to get to the point, one can easily phase out. Muddled in are undeveloped bits of the heroine’s past in an effort to explain her current quandary. They refer to why she may have chosen this man, then stop. There are no references to doubts along the way, just passive observation. More clarity and specificity in the writing would help.
Director Nicholas A. Cotz does a marvelous job of pacing in accordance with emotional thinking. One can practically see the wheels turn in the heroine’s mind. Hands gesture mostly while still in her lap beautifully convey tension and inhibition. Unable to watch herself as she speaks, the character looks out (at us without connecting), but can’t resist an occasional glance at her image. The ending concept is apt and creative.
David Esler’s minimal set is pitch perfect for the piece as is Haydee Zelideth costume.
Photos by Carol Rosegg
Irish Repertory Theatre presents the World Stage Premiere of
Jack Was Kind Written and Performed by Tracy Thorne
Directed by Nicholas A. Cotz
Irish Repertory Theatre
132 West 22nd Street