January 30, 2013
"The Jammer":A Sports Play That Wins Smiles
The Jammer, the roller derby comedy that opened at the Atlantic Stage 2 last week, is a goofball of a show. And I mean that as a total compliment.
Unless the action is set in a locker room, sports stories rarely score on stage. It’s too hard to duplicate the visceral thrill of a dunked basket or an intercepted pass within the confines of a proscenium. But it's a real hoot to watch the clever way that director Jackson Gay and her movement consultant Monica Bill Barnes have devised to simulate competitive roller skating moves in The Jammer.
As luck, and the demands of playwright Rolin Jones’ loose-limbed plot would have it, Lennie Ringle, a slick skating impresario, catches a ride in Jack’s cab and offers him a chance to try out for his team.
Patch Darragh makes Jack loony and lovable at the same time. The other skaters are a collection of Guys and Dolls-type characters (Cindy Gums, Specs Macedo, Jerry ”Three Nuts” Kiger) and the cast, who mainly double and triple in the roles, plays them with deliciously cartoonish verve.
The production team—lead by Wilson Chin’s scenic design and Jessica Ford’s costumes—gets in on the jokes too and there are loads of delightful sight gags, including a very sweet one towards the end of the show.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the most enjoyable sports plays to come along over the last couple of years—The Jammer and Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity—have been set in the worlds of competitive roller skating and pro wrestling, which are as much about show biz as they are about athletics and experienced at concocting morality tales for their fans.
Labels: The Jammer