Anthony J. Piccione
- Onstage New York Columnist
When you think about topics such as addiction, mental health, sexuality, and being able to endure despite your struggles in life, these are indeed quite common themes that are addressed in theatre, nowadays, and rightly so, given how many people these issues resonate with. These are the very themes that are explored in Sean Pollack’s new one-person play Jellybean Junkyard, produced by Playlight Theatre Company and directed by Colleen E. Hughes. When I saw the play on Thursday night,I was particularly impressed by the way this play was quite creative, in the way they incorporated these issues. The ways in which they are explored prove to be just as quirky and unique as the character that the play revolves around, as the audience on opening night discovered.
The play tells the story of “DorcasPinkleberry”,a young cleaning woman who is given very little time to complete the seemingly impossible task of cleaning out anentire chemically infected junkyard, all on her own. Over the course of the show, Dorcasopens up about her past life in Canada, her struggles with TOCD (a combination of Tourette’s syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), and her journey that led her to the job she has today. Without giving away too much more, the play does an excellent job at pulling the audience in with the character’s vivid storytelling, while also including plenty of twists and turns – some somber and others hysterical – that keep the show engaging from beginning to end.
In addition to the play itself, it is the impressive performance by Natalia Lopresti that makes this production as strong as it was. In her performance as DorcasPinkleberry, Ms. Loprestistrikes a perfect balance of being amiable and friendly toward her audience, while also depicting all the traits that one might expect from someone with her condition, from constant hiccups and repeating words to a general sense of social awkwardness. In doing so, she seems to capture the essence of how it may feel to be someone living with a mental illness, such as the condition she is dealing with.
It goes without saying that a play that takes place in a junkyard calls for LOTS of garbage, and the set design by Carl Tallent does an excellent job at providing the necessary scenery to make the audience feel as if they are being taken to the very place where Dorcas works. Furthermore, the lighting design by Dylan James Amick helps add to this atmosphere, and does an especially excellent job at setting the tone, near the end of the show. Meanwhile, sound designer Drew Weinstein makes excellent use of sound effects to invoke the feelings that Dorcashas, as she remembers various moments of her past, over the course of the play.
Overall, this show proves to be just as poignant and thought-provokingas it is hysterical and entertaining. The unconventional manner in which issues of mental illness and addiction are addressed is what makes this such show stand out, to me, as one might not always get to see other plays that deal with such issues in such an offbeat and creative fashion. If you have the chance, I absolutely recommend seeing this very intriguing show this weekend, while it’s still running.
Jellybean Junkyard – produced by Playlight Theatre Company – runs at Under St. Marks Theatre from September 22-24. For more information, please visit www.playlighttheatre.com.
This review was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Playwright, producer, screenwriter, actor, poet and essayist based in New York City.
To learn more about Mr. Piccione and his work, please visit his personal blog atwww.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to like him on Facebook(www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage), follow him on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione) and view his work on the New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org/users/903/anthony-j-piccione).