Theater Review: Jake’s Women—the story of a writer and his women

Pec Playhouse Theatre chose Neil Simon’s Jake’s Women as their fall production. Much of Simon’s work is based on his own life, and this may be the case here. The death of a wife, a broken marriage, an irritating sister, and a daughter whom we see as a child and as an adult comprise his life.

The women are the strength and center of the production. Jenn Murphy is Maggie, Jake’s present wife trapped in a relationship with a man who cannot forget his first love. Amanda Barkdoll, although young, portrays Julie with a stage presence acquired with experience in the community theater. Susan Brazas also performs as Edith, the witty counselor, equally well. Jennifer Abel is Jake’s sister, and as his daughter at 12, Grace Conover uses body language appropriate to a teen-ager. Cheryl Karstetter is Molly at 21, and the scene with her deceased mother is quite touching. Katie Smull appears briefly as Sheila, the latest woman in Jake’s complicated life.

As Jake, Glen Wiegert often narrates, and his long monologues seem to distance him from the audience. The premise of the play, the women in his life returning in his imagination, is confusing at times, making his delivery even more difficult. Jesse T. Dobson directs, having previously directed Barefoot in the Park and Deathtrap at Pec Playhouse.

Some of the costumes were inappropriately designed for the actresses, in fact, often distracting from the performance. Community theater, operating on a limited budget, is forced to use creative solutions—not an easy task.

Jake’s Women plays through Oct. 2, and tickets are available by calling the box office at 239-1210.

Form the Sept. 21-27, 2005, issue

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