by David French
Directed by Ted Dykstra
Featuring Diane D'Aquila and C.
Reviewed by Robin Breon
It's easy to see why backstage dramas are popular with
theatre audiences. Anybody who looks around and says: "let's go to a play
tonight" must love the theatre and plays about plays, playwrights and
players have been popular for centuries. Having said that, is there an example
of the genre any more deserving of the title "classic" than Jitters
by David French?I don't think so.
French's play (which premiered at Tarragon Theatre in
1979) just nailed the whole meshugana business of putting on a play; the egos
and the insecurities, as well as the sincerity and commitment, it's all there
and anyone who wants to know how to skillfully and humorously construct a play
about putting on a play should run and see the Soulpepper production.
Equally important, French does this while maintaining a
unique Canadian sense of humor about the whole thing and doesn't hesitate to
comment on the dilemma of artists who make their living north or the border
while struggling with the idea of "making it" in New York or
Hollywood. At one point one of the actors erupts in frustration about what he
perceives as the difference between working in Canada and the U.S.: "Down
there they embrace success; up here it's like stepping out of line!"
The play runs two and a half hours and never lags a
second. In the final act, one of the characters reads aloud a review of the
play they have just opened by a prominent critic. It's a wonderful speech and
goes way beyond just a brief quote, the playwright actually wrote the WHOLE
review; which is why I have no intention of actually falling into that trap