Middle-Aged White Women Should Run to See Jane Run!

seejane.jpg
Miracle Theater
See Jane Run stars (from left) Maribeth Graham, Jeni Hacker, and Irene Adjan
There are a few things that can really make us squirm. One of them is three mom-like ladies smilingly singing songs about their menstrual cycles, which we witnessed last night at the Actors' Playhouse production See Jane Run!.

Okay, so the opening song to the musical was actually about the multifarious moods and sides to every complex, vaginally-equipped creature. But the playwright chose to swathe this message in a 3-inch-thick, thigh-grazing maxi-pad of a menstrual musical metaphor. 

"I'm per-i-odically moody... I'm per-i-odically fat ... I per-i-odically sing ... I per-i-odically come ... I'm per-i-odically a bitch..." 

Mild nausea aside, we dared not look to our right to gauge our date's reaction, for fear that he was no longer there.


Luckily, things quickly got out of the feminine hygiene aisle and onto more palatable topics. See Jane Run! is entirely composed of musical vignettes that show the modern middle-aged American woman --- correction, white middle-aged American woman --- in the multitude of roles she might inhabit.

A recent divorcee bumbles through a job interview after spending decades as a housewife. Two women in colonial garb squabble as they rehearse a butter- and soap-churning act they perform for elementary school classes (uh, some vignettes work better than others).

A woman lies prone with a sprained ankle she got while practicing step aerobics on a foot stool at midnight because she "felt fat." A lesbian couple embraces before one of them leaves to pick up her child and meet up with her husband, prompting the other to break into agonized song. A woman stumbles out of a party to confess her alcoholism to a stranger at a bus stop.

All of these and other short acts, many of them musical, were performed by the same three actresses: Maribeth Graham, in our opinion, the most "tightly-wound Jane," a wiry redhead who's appeared in many South Florida and Off-Broadway productions and who also wrote the book and lyrics for See Jane Run!; Irene Adjan, "the softest Jane," a South Florida stage vet; and Jeni Hacker, "goofy Jane," who's billed foremost as a singer (and has a tremendous voice) but who also brought the best comedic timing to the show.

All three of these Janes collaborated on a number that we found somewhat troubling. It started out like a pretty innocuous song about the luxurious problem of being a dorky white girl. Adjan sang something about getting "all new threads at J. Crew," and still not looking hip. "What's a poor white girl to do?" she trilled.

Then the song took an unexpected turn, with a painfully repetitive chorus about how Jane could never be a "sexy black Mama like Michelle Obama." It's not out of reverence for the first lady that we cringed when the Janes sang out their envy for Obama's toned arms and great ass, or even when they gave pelvic thrusts and blurted "How 'bout some affirmative action for me?"

The disturbing factors were two-fold: one, the play is supposed to examine the 21st century woman, and this song was one of the only mentions of politics, or really anything outside of relationships and appearance, and still its depth didn't reach beyond wanting to bone the president. And two, with its lyrics about "women of color" having such great rhythm, if the song couldn't quite be labeled "racist," it certainly seems that it would be alienating to non-white women in the audience.

It doesn't help that the only other appearance of a non-WASPy character was that of a somewhat dim-witted Spanish-speaking maid (Hacker), who waits on her white boss (Adjan) in a fall-all-over-yourself servile manner.

Other scenes were more effective, among them an emotionally-charged musical round in which each of the three ladies danced around the next and bitterly asked how it felt to steal her man. A series of dates that tracked a woman from single, to married, to divorced, to dating the widower next door showed the unpredictability of love's course in the modern age. And a shotgun-toting, man-obsessed psycho dater provided comic relief and prompted an "I know that girl!" reaction, at least from this reviewer. 

The play was acted quite well, by some very capable, refreshingly normal-looking, age-appropriate actresses. The script, though, in what seems like a flaw, indicates that though Jane may be rich, homeless, bitchy, sensitive, moody, giving, grateful, spoiled, sexual, bipolar, gay, straight, or even alcoholic --- a veritable "every woman," --- she is always, invariably, white. 

See Jane Run! plays through August 14 at the Actors' Playhouse (280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables). Tickets cost $35. Catch performances Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. for $40, except Saturdays which are $48. Call 305-444-9293 or visit actorsplayhouse.org.

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Location Info

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Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre

280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL

Category: General


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2 comments
Claire
Claire

What the reviewer seems to overlook, perhaps through her own multi-cultural ignorance, is that all of the problems See Jane Run portrays can be experienced by all women...not just 'wasps'. While I agree about  the critiques of the material (which for a freshman vignette show isn't as horrible as Ms. Lamb makes it seem), her take on the Michelle Obama song is thoroughly blown out of proportion. I'm certain women of color aren't so sensitive as to not laugh at such a silly song, god knows if the song were about Jackie O. and wanting to bone Kennedy Ms. Lamb wouldn't be making such a fuss.

Through all of the promotional materials for this show you know that the cast is thoroughly comprised of white women. It's slightly laughable that Ms. Lamb would think this show would in any way be a picture of multi-culturalism. Let's get real and search for this type of equality elsewhere, not a small comedic musical about shallow problems experienced by all women.

See Jane Run is simple, gushy musical theatre. Clearly if Ms. Lamb knew more about theatre she would've had a better time at the theatre.

Camille Lamb
Camille Lamb

There is a difference between being mono-cultural and employing degrading (and unfunny) racial stereotypes. In my opinion, this play did the latter.  

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