Regional Reviews: New Jersey
Enticing Jailbait in Edison
The more experienced Emmy has already been out with Mark. Having promised Mark that she will bring a date for his friend, Emmy convinces the bright, but shy and unhappy, Claire to go with her. Mark is a horndog without the slightest interest in a meaningful relationship. However, his friend Robert is a sensitive guy who wants to reconcile with the wife who has left him. Unexpectedly, warmth and affection develops between Claire and Robert. Blissfully unaware that she is not a 21-year-old Harvard student as she has told him, Robert takes her back to his apartment where they make love.
Jailbait evenly and compassionately illustrates the emotional land mines faced by today's adolescences who have to deal with pressure from peers who expect them to be active sexually before they are prepared, as well as the ease with which adolescents can seduce adult men who are unaware that they are falling into a potentially life destroying trap. To those who are skeptical of the possibility of such unawareness, rest assured, these situations are not uncommon.
However, faith and begorra, Jailbait is not a social work treatise. It is an entertaining short story for the stage with which Deirdre O'Connor, a talented young writer, spreads her wings to bring us a fresh and sure-handed current day take on a timeless yet forever evolving aspect of our lives. An entertainment with some nice twists built around a serious issue with particular interest and appeal for young audiences. Is it exploitative? Who knows? Most likely, it is. After all, isn't all art?
Each member of the cast delineates his role with clarity, which aids in maintaining our interest in each of them.
Melinda Grace as Emmy deftly sets us on edge as we see how coldly she is manipulating Claire. Melissa Toomey (Claire) projects a most appealing mix of sweetness and sadness, along with a native intelligence beyond her years. Carmine Coviello is an extremely likeable Robert. Coviello projects a sense of decency and introspection that raises him above his surroundings as Robert struggles not to fall back under Mark's influence. Peter Kendall (Mark) gets to stand in for all the men-children out there who have not grown up. Mark is a generic type, but Kendall puts sufficient detail into his smooth performance to assure that Mark feels dimensional.
Happily, the tidy 95-minute, one-act Jailbait is intelligently written and consistently entertaining.
Jailbait was originally developed at the Cherry Lane Theatre's developmental space (Cherry Pit) where it was first produced in 2009. It has since been widely produced at regional theatres across the country.
Jailbait continues performances (Evenings: Thursday-Saturday 8 pm/ Sunday 2 pm) through October 27, 2012, Alliance Repertory Theatre at the Edison Valley Playhouse, 2196 Oaktree Road, Edison, NJ 08820; Tel: 908-755-4654. Box Office: 908-755-4654; online: www.alliancerep.org
Jailbait by Deirdre O'Connor; directed by Michael Driscoll