Review: Jackie and Jack (Back Burner Productions)

By George Perry

Roselie Williamson and Glyn Bowerman as Jackie and Jack

Jackie and Jack was written by Jim Christy and was recently mounted by Back Burner Productions at The Lower Ossington Theatre, in Toronto.

The play is a “What if?” It is an escape from reality, a dream. The conception of the play is a possible affair between Jack Kerouac and Jackie Kennedy.

Jackie and Jack was “workshopped” for three nights only, and it was a pleasure to attend. I’ve never been to a workshop before. I felt like I was hanging out with friends at a private function.

The producer, Guy Doucette, introduced Jackie and Jack. He seemed very eager for input and feedback. He was very passionate about his newborn play. A proud new dad sharing with his friends really warms one’s heart!

My wife Michelle and I went to a The National Home Show at The Ex beforehand. I was really excited and proud that I got a free box of Triscuits at the event.

We sat in folding metal chairs waiting for the play to begin. There was no raised stage. It was very cozy and friendly. I made a joke. “I’m going to pass this box of crackers through the crowd, and when it gets back to me, empty, I’m going to freak out. “Who ate all my Triscuits!!!”

Playwright Jim Christy escaped the stark reality of South Philadelphia and dreamed of a “better” life in Canada. He now lives in British Columbia. So he seems to believe in escapism and dreams. It’s important to keep hope and dreams alive.

There’s a line in the play about “escaping from the compound”. Escape is a theme in Jackie and Jack. Jackie escapes from The Kennedy Compound. Kerouac escapes from the celebrity of being “The King of The Beats.” They find each other, and ultimately themselves, while strolling on the beach.

Christy keeps hope alive, his heroes still vivid and real six decades later.

I’m not going to make grandiose proclamations like I spoke with The First Lady of The United States. I will, however, say that Roselie Williamson is outstanding as Jackie Kennedy. She’s also prettier in real life than photographs of the former First Lady.

Michelle and I both admired Williamson’s work. Williamson also is the bearer of much of the passion in the play. Her emotions and words were passionate and real, as were her physical mannerisms. She was believable and a pleasure to watch, truly the standout of this young show. It must be true that girls mature quicker!

Glyn Bowerman plays Jack Kerouac. Michelle and I agreed about his performance as well. I thought his accent wavered at times and sometimes sounded Italian instead of “Beat Yankee”.

The passion in his actions and words didn’t seem as stellar as Williamson’s. We felt passion in his actions and words, but it was clear that he was still “finding” his role. It was a treat to see a fine young actor working and learning his role and craft.

We imagined Bowerman trying to understand Kerouac while listening to the icon read his work, accompanied by jazz musicians.

Kerouac’s cadence and his rhythm were incredible. His voice made his wonderful words breathtaking. It is not realistic to expect the same from Bowerman, but it IS obvious that the young actor is going to attempt brilliance!

I thought Bowerman improved as the play went along. He seemed to grow into the character during the short play. Growing to become a believable drunk was part of Kerouac’s genius.

Annanda DeSilva was also great as Aunt Edith Bouvier Beale. The same can be said of Shawn McLeod as The Ghost of the Susquehanna. I hope their roles are expanded in future versions of Jackie and Jack.

Michelle and I strolled south on Ossington after the play. I wanted to share a beer with her in the most depressing bar in the world. The King of The Beats would have wanted it that way.

I described it: “You gotta see this place! It’s totally chicken or the egg! I was in there once. A young woman was playing Nirvana’s acoustic album. I couldn’t figure out if she was listening to Kurt Cobain because she was depressed, or depressed because she was listening to Kurt Cobain!”

It was a great place, but it is gone. So are Jackie, Kerouac and Cobain. Strangely, the world is a happier place now. Partly, I suppose, because we are richer for their brief appearance on the stage of life.

Before the play began, I joked about passing around a box of crackers for the audience. The people involved with Jackie and Jack offered their friends in the room a heck of a lot more than some toasted pieces of wheat. They offered a play, the audience offered feedback, and we are all the richer because of it. No doubt the box of crackers was returned and is overflowing now!

-Jackie and Jack played at The Lower Ossington Theatre February 23 – February 25 in Toronto

3 thoughts on “Review: Jackie and Jack (Back Burner Productions)”

  1. Fabulous play!! Bowerman grew into his role each day (Mooney reviewed the first performance) and by the end of the workshop, his role was rich and consistant. Also, Mooney failed to mention the fantastic performance of Little Edie by Katrina Carey. She added energy and lightness to the play! Don’t miss it when it comes around again!!!

  2. I must agree Caitlin. I attended the 3rd and last perf and Bowerman was clearly in the zone, as were the rest of the cast, also my kudos to Ms. Perry for great work, a clear oversight not mentioning her work.

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