Front Row Center
By Michael Warren
By Kristen Thomson
Directed by Lynn Phelan
This is the first performance that I have attended at the new Bravo! Theater on Rio Bravo, at the same location as the well-known Naked Stage. It’s a small intimate theater, where the audience sits close and can really feel the action on stage. As a dramatic event at the new theater, Lynn Phelan and Jayme Littlejohn present us with an amazing one-woman show, originally written and performed in Toronto by Canadian actress Kristen Thomson.
“Claudia” is a tween-ager (nearly 13 years old) whose parents have recently divorced, and she’s going through all the angst and anger of that precarious emotional situation. Jayme Littlejohn is entirely convincing as young Claudia, with body language that expresses her confusion. The cleverly constructed set is the boiler room of Claudia’s school, where she hides her secret cache of socks and other precious items – her goldfish and her strange science projects. Other characters include the janitor “Drachman,” her father’s girlfriend “Leslie” and (briefly) her grandfather.
With the use of masks, Jayme plays all four parts. It’s quite a performance, with the separate characters appearing on stage as if we had four actors in the cast. I’ve known before that Jayme is a talented actress, and here she puts on a show of extraordinary power and variety.
The play itself is interesting, but static in terms of plot development.
Nothing much happens and the only discovery in the story is that Claudia finds out that her father was meeting Leslie long before her parents separated. We get to know the main character Claudia, and to some extent the girlfriend Leslie who is revealed to be fragile and needy under her bimbo exterior. The play ends with a beautiful story told by the janitor Drachman, and overall it’s a wonderful vehicle for a great one-woman performance.
The masks and set design were very well done by Rob Stupple. And I congratulate Lynn Phelan as the director on effective staging and emotional variety. This was a good play for the Bravo!, which provides a welcome additional venue for actors and directors in this small town.
The final play of the LLT season is The Dixie Swim Club, which is directed by Barbara Clippinger. I look forward to seeing this amusing and poignant play, which opens on March 27 and runs through April 5.