Jackalope Theatre Company presents the World Premiere of THE PEACOCK.
Playwright Calamity West pens an ode to writers. Her story focuses on the construction of a story. Set in 1946, four guys and a gal compete for their professor’s favor. West’s dialogue is an intriguing cerebral tickler. From the start, curiosity is peaked. A one-legged woman is dumped on the floor. The no-nonsense AJ Ware (Nan) struggles to retrieve her prosthesis. The feat is especially impressive because I believe Ware has two legs. Under Marti Lyons’ direction, the illusion is effective as Ware straps it on and clops across the stage. She sits down at a typewriter and starts to compose. It’s one of multiple quick scenes that West has out of sequential order to build the mystery. I’m immediately committed to piecing together this writer’s story.
The next scene plops us down in a workshop in progress. West has created distinctive intellectual characters and makes them spar like children. The domineering Nate Whelden (Henry) bullies the charming Jack Miggins (Eugene) to side with him against the preening Tim Martin (Calvin). Meanwhile, the understated Andrew Burden Swanson (William) feigns interest and the bumbling Ed Dzialo (professor) tries to maintain control. The dialogue is snappy. The jokes are witty. Lyons keeps the pace tight even in the well-orchestrated scene transitions. She has the cast regularly clear the classroom with synchronized chair piling.
I thoroughly enjoyed THE PEACOCK. It has a “Stranger than Fiction” meets “Dead Poet Society” vibe. The conversations focus on the dissection of artistry. Students are challenged to defend the intent of their plot, their character, their life. From my writer’s perspective, it’s clever. Anyone who has ever read their tale a loud to a discerning group of writers will not only be amused, they’ll be delighted they aren’t a participant. I’m not certain a non-writer would view it with the same entertainment value. Still, even though it’s rather bookish for theatre, THE PEACOCK knows how to shake its tail feathers.
Running Time: Eighty-five minutes with no intermission
At City Lit, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr
Written by Calamity West
Directed by Marti Lyons
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 7:30pm
EXTENDED Thru December 14th
Buy Tickets at www.jackalopetheatre.org