February 16, 2002

Adelaide Theatre

Filed under: Archive,Comedy

15 February, 2002.
Murray Bramwell

Partly It’s About Love…Partly It’s About Massacre
by Fiona Sprott. Savage Wit and Vitalstatistix.
The Bakehouse, Adelaide. Until 16 March.
Tickets $18, $12 . Bookings FringeTIX (08) 8201 4567

Jezebel is back, not so much with a vengeance – although first-degree butter knife wounds are involved here – but with a story to tell about her heart, her hormones and the deep ambivalence of commitment. Jezebel is the creation of writer Fiona Sprott and actor Jacqueline Linke, these days known as Savage Wit, who took Often I Find When I am Naked, the first instalment of their continuing chronicle of a single thirty-something, to the Edinburgh Fringe, New York and London’s West End. That was back around1999 when Jacqueline Linke picked up Best Actress Award at the Fringe and the show captured broken and twisted hearts wherever it played.

Partly its About Love is an even stronger text than its predecessor. There are still the clear connections to the fast one-liners of such spritzy comedies of neurotic urban interface as Seinfeld and Sex in the City, but here Sprott is confident in more than getting the laughs. Jezebel has become a more ferocious and complicated character than when she was so often naked. Now the desperation cuts deeper, the mood swings are more painful. There is plenty about love, but massacre might just tear it apart.

It is Jezebel’s wedding and she, like the whole of the Bakehouse stage, is in scarlet. She is also carrying the blood-stained shirt of her betrothed Park Ranger, she can only rarely bring herself to call him by his name. It all started over the butter, about his constantly leaving the lid off… and the toast crumbs, and the worm farm. Why would he do that ? He isn’t pressing charges, she tells us, which is nice.

Jacqueline Linke’s Jezebel is splendidly poised between brittle comedy and the kind of anguished hyper-selfconsciousness that afflicts not just the young and the restless. Sprott’s text is a dark meditation, especially on Valentine’s Day, on the tyrannies of romance, the conspicuous consummation of the bourgeois wedding and the fragility of the everyday self. Linke is carried on the wings of a text, always strong, at times brilliant, Fiona Sprott now has an ear for dialogue as strong as her nose for the zeitgeist.

Vitalstatistix have taken their charter to promote new work for women playwrights into a new heartland. And they have added production values – from Khristina Totos’ steadying direction and Ian Moorhead’s deft on-stage keyboard soundscape to Sue Grey Gardner’s sumptuously simple lighting. Regan Hay’s smartly animated text projections also demonstrate that multimedia can contribute something more than just well-meaning powerpoint.

Partly It’s About Love… is undoubtedly a hit of a 2002 Adelaide Fringe that has not yet begun. But, if Jezebel will pardon my French, she has the legs to take this comedy of neo-manners anywhere she wants it to go.

The Australian, February 16, 2002.

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