Jennifer Forever

Jennifer Forever
By Tara Clark. Sydney Fringe. Director: Tara Clark.Lighting Designer: Liam O’Keefe. Stage Manager: Cara Woods. Old 505 Theatre Surry Hills. 17 - 28 September 2014

Sexual perversity is alive and well in Sydney

Jennifer Forever is a very capably written, cleverly directed, well-acted and fascinating play apparently about two sexually abhorrent individuals – a man and a woman. Or are they abhorrent or merely normal in their perversity? The play initially leads us down one pathway about a predator and prey – with an accompanying visual projection. Then spins off in another direction, which switches the roles of manipulator and victim and challenges our sympathies for both. The play flows smoothly on stage, we flick in and out of various scenes between the two actors and are constantly challenged just when we are grasping at an opinion about what’s really going on.

This work puts forward the view that perhaps we can all escape being labelled perverts so long as we internalise our perverted or violent urges. But if we act upon them then become sinners or even criminals. So is it legitimate to role play sexual perversity or is the very exposure of our sexual ‘perversions’ enough to make us culpable? If so, are both role players equally complicit if they take part willingly for fun or profit?

The use of the man as narrator, like Humbert Humbert, enables insights into his motivations and his inner excuses for his appalling behaviour towards another human being. He’s surprised and secretly delighted that his prey’s favourite book is Lolita. She appears to be his Lolita, but is she really? Perhaps she’s the Praying Mantis predator lover who consumes the flesh and the soul of her prey.

This play moves relentlessly for 70 minutes and embroils its audience in the combat contained in the dialogue, the sexual innuendo of the actions and the growing fear of potentially enjoying these characters crossing a point of no return.

On an almost bare stage the director Tara Clark and her actors take a tense journey into sexual perversity and draw us in as accomplices into the sins of these characters. Dominic McDonald as the Man is electric and domineering like an aspiring deity and Gemma Scoble as the Girl is as lithe and slippery as a devilish serpent. Don’t miss this play.

Stephen Carnell

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