First things first. A caveat. This is a very long piece. Three and a half hours with two intervals.
JOHN is a four hander. Elias and Jenny stop off at a bed and breakfast in famous Gettysburg. They arrive late and are greeted by the eccentric manageress/host, Mertis.
They are shown their lodging for the night. The walls are paper thin. The couple bicker and Mertis picks up on the tension between them and tries to be a calming influence
It isn’t long into their stay that Mertis introduces Jenny to her good friend the blind, eccentric Genevieve,
Through the play we closely follow the interactions between these unusual characters.
My take on the play. There is a haunting, spooky darkly comic quality that emanates from this work. The Bed and Breakfast place with its assortment of dolls and accoutrements has this sense about it. Mertis talks often of her husband George who is supposed to be living with her but we never do see him. We wonder what the real story is?!
Then there’s Genevieve who believes her husband still lives inside of her though they parted a long time ago. In the living room Jenny finds the exact same doll that she had when she was a child. The doll had very lifelike qualities for her growing up and she is now reminded of them.
Gettysburg is of-course the town where President Lincoln delivered his famous address during the American Civil War. It is one of the reasons that Elias and Jenny have stopped the night there. Elias goes off exploring the town and its rich history whilst the women spend time together.
Craig Baldwin sensitively directs Baker’s gothic play. He wins good performances from the cast. Belinda Giblin gives a evocative performance as the kindly manageress/host, Mertis.
Shuang Hu played the easily rattled Jenny. with James Bell playing her very guarded partner Elias who feels ‘the pinch’ of being surrounded by a house of women.
Maggie Blinco revels in playing the weird, wacky Genevieve.
Mention has to be made of Jeremy Allen’s intricately detailed set and impressive costume design.
The stage was well lit by Veronique Benett.
Verdict. It has to be said I wan’t a big fan of this gothic piece. Over to you…..,
An Outhouse Theatre Co and Seymour Centre production, Annie Baker’s JOHN is playing the Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre until Saturday 12th October, 2019.