Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Handle it – Street Theatre March 13-15, 2015

Written and performed by Laura Jackson
Directed by Janys Hayes
Reviewed by Simone Penkethman

Handle It is a gutsy and engaging piece of theatre that sets out to tell the story of a young woman whose life is turned upside down when compromising pictures of her are posted on Facebook.  The subject matter is sensitive and topical and the show provokes thought and conversation.   The story unfolds as a series of monologues delivered by one performer as seven different characters; the last to appear is the victim herself. 

Jackson is a brave and committed performer who  identifies as a feminist.  Her portrayal of the main male character was balanced and believable.  Less believable were some of the female characters; two of which well and truly crossed the line into caricature.  A character described in the program notes as a Pro Internet Sexologist was quite extraneous to the plot and served only as a mouthpiece for ideas about the politics of pornography.   

During Jackson's lightning quick changes between characters, social media feeds were projected on stage.  The projections allowed us to eavesdrop on personal messages and newsfeeds of peripheral characters, and to watch the all-too-believable viral spread of the compromising photos.
Handle It  is a play of ideas and, as the plot thickened, more themes were introduced.  While topical, emotionally charged and dramatic, later developments  steered the plot away from its original premise.   The circulating of the compromising pictures became secondary to the play's climax and as a result lacked satisfying exploration and resolution.

Jackson is a young writer and performer with passion, conviction and skill.  The production was of a high quality in design and execution.   There are enough ideas in Handle It for two plays and I look forward to seeing more of Jackson's work as she refines her craft.