Theatre Review: Jitters

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27 November 2013, Varsity Online Reviews Section

From the moment you enter the Corpus Playroom to watch Jitters, an original comedy written by first-time writer Mollie Wintle, you can see the two main cast members lounging about on a sofa onstage decorated with Turkish rugs, coffee tables and plush furniture. From this you can establish two things: firstly what the two main cast members will be doing throughout the play (that is, not a lot) and the middle class nature of the play.

In Jitters the tasteless Martha, played by Laura Inge, is finally doing the decent thing and getting married, which is a great relief for her equally foul family who desire nothing more than to get rid of her at any cost. While everyone is preparing for the wedding, Freya and Sophie, played by Freya Mead and Rebecca Cusack respectively, avoid the wedding flurry by sitting upstairs and moaning about their lives and family. The events take a turn when it appears the husband-to-be Jack, portrayed by Tim Crowter, is experiencing jitters and can’t go through with the wedding.

Despite the potential for comedy, the play does not deliver the laughs it promised at the outset. It is neither a social satire of the middle classes, nor simple satire. Some of the scenes which are intended to be funniest, such as Jack’s wedding jitters, feel slightly overacted and never quite achieve hilarity. Jitters’ comic characters also fail to play their part correctly as they never become more than caricatures of sullen teenagers, Daily Mail readers, nerds and uptight middle class women. Additionally, the play undergoes a tonal shift at various points toward the end where the actions and dialogue of the characters become somewhat serious. However, this – and what it brings about as a result – is unconvincing as a particularly meaningful sacrifice.

The main problem with the two main characters is that they remain sitting down, muttering truisms and making vapid remarks about others and complaining in general, and after a while become more frustrating than amusing. Additionally, most of the male characters appear to serve no function at all: they may enter the stage for a scene to either do something practical or just say hello, beyond that they are nothing more than enablers. That said, Laura Waldren deserves high praise for her subtle and convincing portrayal of a Marian who has been brought to the edge by her sister Martha and her freeloading ways.

All in all, Jitters is funny enough to engage the audience. But it contains tonal shifts which are unnecessary, and portrays characters it is hard to like or sympathise with. It demonstrates some excellent performances, but that may not be enough of a compensation.

Image: WikiCommons

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