[2010019] Jane was 16 yesterday!

Jane was 16 yesterday! [FringeTIX]

Spotlight Theatre Company @ Jah’z Lounge

9:15pm, Thu 18 Feb 2010

Oooooh, a bit of an odd one, this. As soon as the lights come up, we meet Jane – about to turn forty, she’s just emerged from a coma after nearly 24 years. There’s an understandable look of shock and disbelief as she looks into a small mirror – this is the first time she’s seen herself since awakening, and her own face is as unrecognisable to her as the “old woman” who says she’s her mother.

Exposition occurs via the sessions Jane has with Susan, who is trying to ascertain whether there’s been any lasting damage to Jane’s brain as a result of the accident and coma. It soon becomes evident that Jane is just the same articulate, intelligent teenager she always was; Susan’s focus then shifts to re-integrating her into society, free of the needy clutches of Jane’s mother. Along the way, there’s a couple of key revelations that impact upon Jane: the over-sexualisation of the media, the rise of terrorism, and – most importantly – the fact that her father had petitioned to turn off her life support.

This last fact, of course, triggers off a maelstrom of emotions – loathing is to be expected, of course, but as the play progresses Susan paints Jane’s father as the saint, rather than the sinner; the breakup of her parent’s marriage an inevitable outcome as her mother shifts in Jane’s mind from constant supporter to meddling oppressor, anxious not to let her daughter grow up.

The main problem with Jane was 16 yesterday! is that there are still a bunch of inconsistencies; after all, I’m the around same age as Jane and Susan (who’s a year younger than her patient), and so I find it very easy to identify with Jane’s most “recent” recollections. But there’s no way we used the term “lame” back in the mid-eighties, and (as Tony acknowledged when I chatted with him post-show) the Pet Shop Boys references are also a year or two out (simple solution: re-stage the play in a couple of years! ;)

Factual errors aside, there’s also a few bits that didn’t feel right; I cannot possibly imagine what it would be like to hear of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York now, but I can’t imagine anyone having the same response that Jane did. Likewise, I wasn’t convinced by Jane’s penchant for flip-flopping moods rapidly – and deeply; little scenes like that killed the suspension of disbelief.

And yet, despite my grumpalump comments above, I really quite enjoyed this piece – even if I did expect a bit of a light-hearted comedy (in the vein of Freaky Friday or Big) when going in. It’s a good, solid Fringe production that manages to toy with a bunch of ideas in a short amount of time, and turn into something you weren’t expecting. Which, in this case, is nice :)

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