Reviewed by David Smith
In Jake’s Women, Galleon chose an unusual and challenging play. It concerns a severely self-doubting writer who spends much of his time imagining his way through a series of interactions with the six most significant women in his life. Director Warren McKenzie credibly managed the interplay of reality and imagination.
The dominant force was Jake, an enormous and demanding role, played by the versatile Andrew Clark. Jake leaves the stage only once, and that for a brief toilet stop. Clark carried the complex role well. His strengths were patent, showing Jake to be ever vulnerable, either in the calmer introspective moments addressing the audience or in his most exasperated times, when he lost control of the very conversations he himself had invented.
The ensemble worked well with Simon’s script which balanced plenty of one-liners against the underlying sadness of Jake’s predicament. Sometimes, therefore, the jokes didn’t get the fulsome laughs they otherwise might have.
Mari Nield, as Jake’s current wife, was confident and consistent in both her real and imagined scenes. Joanne St Claire did well as his flamboyant sister, Karen, frequently evoked to bring him either solace or further doubt. Eilish Devlin and Molly McCormack, playing his daughter Mollie at twelve and twenty one respectively, brought innocence and normality to their scenes.
Laura Antoniazzi was splendid as Jake’s deceased wife, Julie, showing a natural ease and empathy in the role. Her long-anticipated conversation with Mollie as an adult was very moving.
The set was simple and functional, using levels to good effect.