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JAILBAIT JAILBAIT
by Deirdre O’Connor

Dallas Actor's Lab

Directed by Dylan Key
Scenic Design – Tim Rothwell
Costume Design – Clare Kapusta
Lighting Design – Janet Berka
Sound Design – Dylan Key
Original Club Music – DJ DIK
Stage Manager – Colleen Ahern


CAST:
Katherine Bourne – Claire
Mikaela Krantz – Emmy
Kyle Lemieux – Robert
Jeff Swearingen – Mark

JAILBAITJAILBAITJAILBAIT






Reviewed Performance 8/23/2013

Reviewed by Charlie Bowles, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Two guys go into a bar looking for easy sex and a measure of mutual honor among men. Two underage girls fake their way into the same bar looking for a taste of adulthood. The two 15-year-old girls have no idea where adulthood will take them and the 30-year old guys are too desperate to see through the girls’ lies. By the time the truth comes out the implications and complications are much worse than they imagined.

In today’s world we might call these guys perverts or criminals. We just call the girls, Jailbait. Today this type of behavior goes viral and the guys probably ruin their own and young girls’ lives, all played out on CNN.

Jailbait is not a seedy thriller about statutory rape. The 2008 play by Deirdre O’Connor is a delicate story with lots of complications for its characters, but it’s also a comedic drama with laughs and insights into the minds of men trying to retain their youth and teenage girls trying to shed theirs. It walks a dangerous line, where the implications about sex between adults and pre-adults hover over every conversation, making character flaws even more intense.

For Jailbait, the Bath House Cultural Center used a floor-level rectangular stage between two banks of seats. Tim Rothwell designed a set that allowed the actors to play scenes in four corners and across the open floor with only a few lighting changes. The book-end scenes took place in a teenage bedroom, with quick jumps to a club dance floor, the club’s bathroom floor, and a living room. Janet Berka used banks of instruments to light the acting area, but the mood lighting came from on-stage hanging lamps, a bedroom lamp, and a full-length mirror encircled with Christmas lights. All together this worked well to easily shift the audience to new locations and keep the pace quick.

Clare Kapusta created a costume plot that gave each character a believable look and, notably, made the 15-year-old girls look older. One shifted from a red hoodie and pajama shorts into a red party skirt and gold high heels. The other went from a grey sweat shirt to silky blue shorts and jacket. In a time when clubs were lax in checking ID’s, these girls could get into a club and look reasonably mature on the dance floor, especially to guys blinded with drink.

Dylan Key directed Jailbait and also used the music of DJ DIK, a prominent nationally-recognized party DJ, to play through scene changes. I found that music jarring, as it had the effect of a Hitchcock thriller, but it might have been intended to create the tension it did. Thankfully they didn’t play during scenes until the last, when an emotionally evocative piece played over an equally emotional ending. I had difficulty hearing important lines, especially heartfelt whispers between Claire and Emmy as they plotted and suffered because the Bath House’s A/C caused a wind noise that overcame actors’ voices only a few rows from the stage on my side.

Jailbait is essentially a series of two-character scenes, each with an unsure personality talking about fears and dreams with a supposed “more-experienced” person. In each scene one character becomes the “adult” and one becomes the “youth” and the comedy comes from these unlikely pairings when advice is given. Yet it’s through these conversations we learn about their flaws and realize each one of them struggles to understand what adulthood means.

Emmy, instigator of the girls’ devious plan, was played by Mikaela Krantz. Krantz was able to create the persona of a young teen filled with bravado and false experience while being naïve and uncertain about the approaching adult world. She made Emmy outwardly tough and inwardly tentative and gave her a sweet innocence that made her likable even while she was devious and forceful. At one point Krantz played a drunk teenager scene followed later by a hangover scene. Both could have been horrible clichés but Krantz made them both funny and touching. Nice job!

Claire is the innocent “smart girl,” dealing with the death of her father and imminent dating by her mother. Katherine Bourne found a balance between Claire’s innocent fear of Emmy’s mysterious plans and a natural curiosity about a scary, exciting glimpse into adulthood. Bourne had to make Claire walk the impossible line between feeling fifteen and acting twenty-one and it’s through Claire’s eyes and Bourne’s character choices that we see the dangerous naiveté in this story.

Emmy connects with Mark, played with a recognizable smarm-iness by Jeff Swearingen. Without knowing Emmy’s age he plays into her wiles with an unlikely ignorance. How could this worldly guy be that blind? Yet it’s Mark who eventually discovers the girls’ secret. It’s Mark who stops the charade and does the right thing in the end. Swearingen showed us Mark’s transformation from his shallow bravado to a genuine concern for the girls and Robert and reminded us of the real consequences of this story.

Robert is the more mature of the two men, feeling the pangs of a broken dream while reeling from a failed relationship. Played by Kyle Lemieux, Robert becomes the target for the sweet innocence of Claire. Her natural naiveté is intoxicating to him and makes him forget his depression and that gets them both into trouble. Lemieux created a flawed character who could be lured into a dangerous situation with only a few questions and even fewer answers, but who also showed an innocent side with an honesty that was refreshing. Even when truths emerged, Lemieux gave us Robert as a gullible victim rather than a conniving adult.

Deirdre O’Connor did a public service bringing the story of Jailbait to life in an accessible way that allows for real discussion of this subject without hyperbole. Dallas Actor’s Lab gave it a sense of style that allowed for the highest common denominator approach. Dylan Key’s direction explored the deeper meanings of the story without becoming seedy or clichéd. And the actors created characters with sensitivity and realism. There’s nothing to hate or get indignant about with any of them.

Jailbait reminds us that it’s not so easy to travel the road through adulthood and those who fail are usually not monsters. Understanding the honesty in ourselves and others may help avoid the more dangerous hazards along the journey.




JAILBAIT
Dallas Actor’s Lab

Bath House Cultural Center
521 E. Lawther Drive
Dallas, Texas 75218

Plays only through August 31st

Thursday – Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Saturday matinee at 2:00 pm

Friday’s performance will have a post-show discussion with Dr. Myron S. Lazar

Tickets are $20.00 and $10.00 for students with ID. Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be available prior to the performance.

For info & to purchase tickets, visit www.dallasactorslab.org or call 214-604-7