Center Stage: Nothing plain about Jane
“Jane the Plain” currently playing at the Theatre Conspiracy is a funny, odd, sort of Greek tragedy, laced look at that weird sort of time in our lives known as high school. Personally, I never fully experienced that crazy time because I attended the High School of Performing Arts in NYC. We had no sports except dance and no jocks except our hottie jazz musician wannabes. Nevertheless, seventh and eighth grade were my first and only taste of what’s known as middle school hell.
Playwright August Schulenburg has woven together the fine threads of comedy, magic, poetry and teen high school stereotypes, right down to their monikers:
- Jane the Plain- Paige Hawkins
- Scotty the Hotty- Daniel King
- Betty the Pretty- Linette Camejo
- Lesson the Decent- Marcel Ulysse
- Leonard the Awkward- Jacob Beal
- Lexi the Sexy- Madison Grant
(An aside; I was Marsha-mellow in 8th grade; and my best friend was Maryjane — the Insane. Quite original, don’t you think?)
Told in present day lingo, including some colorful four letter words, the plotline is a mashup, told in age appropriate narration, about how beauty and the perception of beauty can mark a young person’s whole life to Greek tragedy proportions. True to adolescent emotions, everything is a life or death experience.
The plot follows Plain Jane after she gets noticed by Scotty the Hotty (the high school’s star quarterback); they ought to have been working on a chemistry project but instead wind up in bed studying a different kind of chemistry. When Scotty leaves, Jane sends a nude “selfie” and some mushy text, which goes viral at Plainview High. Soon Betty the Pretty, Lesson the Decent, Leonard the Awkward, and Lexi the Sexy know it all.
Jane’s one true blue friend, Leonard, feels the big letdown, while Betty who had the “hots” for Scotty wants to play payback time. Meanwhile, Scotty ignores our heroine, leaving Jane in shame city wanting to off herself by running out in the rain, to get away from it all by playing traffic tag.
Enter an imaginary mythic “Golden Girl” and her magical encounter with our heroine. Golden Girl responds to this get-together by turning our geeky smart, utterly average looking, not too savvy, plain Jane into a ravishing beauty. Not only changing her life but changing her outlook and how she perceives herself, thus in turn, how others now see her.
Suddenly everyone wants to be with Jane and be her best friend, even vengeful Betty. Only Lexi the Sexy sees how Jane has been changed, and tries to warn her. Jane wants none of that, she’s thriving on being the “it girl.” So there isn’t any “spoiler effect.” That’s all of the story you’ll get out of me.
Director Bill Taylor has done a first-rate job with this delightful play, getting great performances out of his wonderful, college student cast, who are: Paige Dawkins (Jane the Plain) acing her leading role, sliding from plain Jane to Jane the brain, to Jane the magnificent with ease and grace. Daniel King as Scotty the Hotty was equally good as Scot the hot, or Scot the snot and not so hot. Jacob Beal came through loud and clear as Leonard the Awkward, a real, true blue pal when you need one. Madison Grant was totally cute and adorable as Lexi the Sexy. Marcel Ulysse was magical, acting as an entire Greek chorus narrating this tragedy/comedy.
Last but in no way least Linnette Camejo, as Betty the Pretty making her acting debut, was spot on. Do keep on with your love of dancing, Linnette but include acting as an added career possibility.
Bottom line: If you are ready to revisit some of the funny but weird trials and tribulations straight out of the teen years in high school, then “Jane the Plain” is for you; also if you have some kids or grandkids hanging about, you might want to take them along to see “Jane the Plain.”
Start the ball rolling by phoning the Theatre Conspiracy box office at (239) 936-3239.
Remember when you phone, tell ’em Marsha sent you.