As has happened to me a few times in my theatre going experience: the actors were amazing, the play not so great. To a man (and woman) Ed Harris, Bill Pullman, Glenne Headly, Amy Madigan and Juliet Brett (who was truly stunning) were stupendous in The New Group production of Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian. I was just left with a big fat WHY?
Director Robert Falls does a masterful job with the non linear storytelling in this 85 minute one act, Walt Spangler’s sets are great, lighting by Danial Ionazzi top rate, but what was the point of it all, I found myself wondering. It’s not an especially hard plot to follow, even with the jumps in time. There’s some good humor throughout, when Harris get’s all jumpy he really is as brilliant from one end of the spectrum as Pullman in his stunted folded-in-on-himself movements are the other and Brett feeds the set with a desperation that Headly counters with her knowing innate sense wrapped in a seeming goofiness while Madigan is a whirlwind. It’s just that when things happen, in big and small ways here, horrific and wacky both, at the end of it all one wonders what was the point of it all really?
Unfortunately I can’t recommend The Jacksonian though, as I say the performances are truly top rate. The play just has no real reason for being.
The Jacksonian runs at the Acorn Theatre through December 22, 2013. For ticket information, please visit http://www.telecharge.com/Off-Broadway/The-Jacksonian/Directions-Parking.