The Lettuce Dream Theatre Company’s Jay, which is written and directed by Eleonora Fusco, is making its debut at The Hen and Chickens Theatre. Jay is an emotionally charged piece of drama which will resonate with audiences, but still needs some work on the overall story.
Jay and her girlfriend Alex, played by the writer and director, are clearly going through some problems. Alex spends her days depressed and unable to cook or even leave the house, so when Jay drops the bombshell that she wants to have a baby it sets in motion a complicated dance of argument and counter-argument.
Fast-forward four years and it’s all change, Jay and Alex are no longer together but Jay has moved in with a new partner, Andrea. When Alex comes to visit, it turns out there’s more than one baby on the way, but secrets have to be revealed and unresolved issues dealt with. All through this, there are frequent visits from the ‘Prozac Dream’, a physical manifestation of one of the character’s mental state.
While there’s a great deal of back and forth in terms of dialogue, and just as many moody silences, it sometimes feels like it’s going nowhere, the same issues are repeated, the same words are said. The ‘Prozac Dream’ (Lee Anderson) does help to gain some kind of understanding of the internal dialogue of the character, which would be lacking otherwise.
The female leads; Flora Nisbet-Dawson, Eleonora Fusco and Mari-Ange Ramirez find the emotional intensity required to keep the play compelling. None of the characters are particularly endearing, and it would be extremely difficult to identify with them if it were not for the performances. What is lacking in the short production, is some sense of background, a reason for each of these characters to be behaving in the way that they do.
For a small-scale production, the set is particularly well dressed and really helps to put the piece in to context. The stage becomes a London studio apartment, with everything you would expect to find in a bijou bedsit. Even the bathroom is well represented with appropriate flushing sound effects – there is a lot of going to the toilet – and running tap sounds. With no lighting designer, the company has done a marvellous job of creating the right ambience with limited resources.
Jay has a fantastic opportunity in terms of the plot, but struggles to elevate it from a storyline to a fully-formed piece of drama. There are some witty moments, and the situation is ridiculous enough that it could make a fine comedy. There is huge potential here to explore the characters in more detail, and really get under the skin of these three ladies, and their complex relationships with each other.