What would happen if Ozzie and Harriet's perfect world came crashing down around their ears? Jason McCullough's dark comedy Home Again Home Again Jiggety Jig provides an intriguing answer. Holly and Skip are your standard suburbanites with all the trappings. (A country club, a two-car garage, etc.) Skip is an up-and-coming podiatrist, while Holly sits at home, pregnant with their first child.
Their orderly life is disrupted when Kathy, a friend they haven't seen in years, comes over for dinner, stoned out of her mind. She's joined soon after by her artist/lover Fred (played by McCullough). These two are everything the suburbanites are not, with a no-holds-barred approach to life, no matter who or what gets in the way. With the newcomers leading the way, the dinner turns into an evening of drunken revelry for all concerned. But amidst the gaiety, battle lines are drawn over class distinctions, lifestyle, and the sacrifices each person has made to get where he or she is. Eventually and inevitably, events take a frightening turn.
The play was riveting, but it's also a case of the actors overshadowing the material. Spencer Aste was the standout as Robert. When first seen, he's so smarmily arrogant (reducing his wife to tears), he arouses the urge to knock his head off. But as the play unfolds, he bares his very soul. His value system may not mean much to anyone else in the play, but it means the world to him, and he masterfully defends it. Jenna Jolley was superb as the cocaine-addicted Kathy, who switches between a comic buffoon and a pathetic person who just wants the pain to end. The way she mixes booze and drugs suggests she'll drop dead at any moment. McCullough and Heather Goldenhersh (as Holly) played their characters well, but their overall effectiveness was lessened because the play doesn't get much insight into who they are. Holly is suffocating in a suburban lifestyle (which is discovered almost immediately), and under Fred's good-old-boy exterior is a mountain of rage against the world. Unfortunately, the audience never gets to see what brought them to these points. Nick Micozzi rounded out the cast as a delivery guy.
Adam Rapp's direction was flawless, and he kept the action moving with a sure hand. Todd Sutherland's set was nicely "antiseptic" (as Fred put it). Sound by Trevor A. Williams and lighting (by McCullough) sufficed.
The play could use some cutting, especially in Act One. McCullough effectively makes his points, but then makes them again, and again. Home Again Home Again Jiggety Jig is an interesting (and at times powerful) theatre piece, but stays a bit too long at the party.
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Copyright 1998 Judd Hollander