Park 90, Park Theatre, London – until 3 December 2016
Peter Quilter’s new comedy Saving Jason looks at what it means to have an addiction in a very intimate production.
What lengths would you go to try and prevent your child going down a dangerous path? Well, in the case of Linda and Trevor Gedge, they go as far as hosting a pretend funeral for their son Jason who enjoys taking ecstasy and going to raves in order to escape his home life.
This is merely a starting point, for what turns out to be a therapy session for Jason and his some what eccentric family, revealing all of their secret battles with things such as alcohol and prescription pills – all the while hurling abuse at each other.
It is a cleverly set up play that just has the right amount of humour along with a gradual increasing amount of tension that explodes in all of the right moments – culminating in an angry food fight that reveals a family that has been pushed to breaking point.
Peter Quilter’s play asks us what the true definition of addiction is. Although drugs are considered to be the most dangerous form of addiction out there, there are others that are equally as bad as Jason (Jacques Miche) points out. But thankfully, Quilter and director Steven Dexter make sure that the subject doesn’t come across as preachy or judgmental.
This is down in part to Andrew Riley’s excellently designed set that surrounds the audience, making them feel as much part of the action that is taking place in the living room as any of the characters. But it is also down to the fact that the family we get to know could be any family anywhere, making it completely relatable – emphasising that we don’t actually know what goes on behind closed doors.
There are some strong performances to enjoy, not least Jacques Miche as Jason who although we originally think is going to be simply rebellious actually comes across as the most level headed of them all. His increasing frustration about his family trying to push him in the “right” direction is powerful but yet by the end as he prevents his family from trying ecstasy there is a glimpse of the real affection he has for his parents. It is an energetic and well-rounded performance.
Julie Armstrong as Linda’s erratic sister Angela is hilarious to watch bursting onto the stage with a ridiculously sized hat and mouthy, William Oxborrow as Trevor who when anxious hides in the furniture, delivers a well grounded performance even if it doesn’t feel as though he is involved as perhaps he could be.
What comes through in this production is that addiction is not easy to define, taking many forms – but ultimately as Jason says is a part of us that is trying to find happiness – not in the most constructive way.
Dexter’s production could use bringing out the comedy slightly more and perhaps needs to be sharper in delivery, but it does deliver the intimacy and heartfelt nature of Peter Quilter’s play, based on personal experience of the playwright, that feels genuine and down to earth.
Saving Jason will continue to play at the Park Theatre until the 3rd December. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/saving-jason.