Theatre Review: Jesikah


The need to impress & obtain notoriety by whatever means is the theme to this humorous, slightly dark play, capturing the idiosyncrasies of today’s youth perfectly,

Presented by State Theatre Company of South Australia and Country Arts SA
Venue: Hopgood Theatre, Noarlunga
Reviewed 9 May 2014

A large number of us seek fame and now, for a few lucky hopefuls, it can almost be instantaneous thanks to such television shows as The X Factor, The Voice, ad infinitum. The need to impress is present in most, if not all of us however.

Society forces us to impress our parents, bosses, peers, partners and nowadays the world, thanks to the likes of Facebook, blogging, and especially YouTube. The more views our video clip can obtain of us singing or entangling our friend’s hair in an automatic egg beater while our kitten plays the piano, the more impressive we are.

The need to impress and obtain notoriety by whatever means is the overall theme to Phillip Kavanagh’s humorous, slightly dark play Jesikah. Kavanagh is the recipient of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award (2011), the Flinders University Young Playwrights Award (2011) and this year’s Jill Blewett Playwright’s Award. After viewing Jesikah one easily sees why. The script is clear, succinct, funny, captures the idiosyncrasies of modern day youth perfectly, and delivers a valid – albeit disturbing – message.

Nescha Jelk directs the play with a full understanding of the script and the themes it examines. She imbues the production with cleverness and slight symbolism that never takes away from the storyline or the performances of her two actors, Kate Cheel and Elizabeth Hay.

The always impressive Cheel excels as teenager Jesikah. Although the character is masterfully manipulative and bullying, Cheel manages to deliver lightness and a certain likability to the role whilst portraying those nastier traits brilliantly; thus making young Jesikah very real and accessible. Cheel also manages some ‘bad’ singing and acting superbly.

Hay tackles the task of portraying her three roles (Jessikah’s BFF Denise, Mum and the school Drama teacher, Miss H) with excellence and skill, relying on physicality and voice alone (as she wears the same costume for all three). Whilst all of her characterisations are wonderful, Hay’s ‘Denise’ is absolutely delightful.

The State Theatre Company has set its own bar extremely high with its recent production of Neighbourhood Watch, but Jesikah equals it in integrity and accessibility.

Jesikah is current touring regional South Australia before a State Theatre Company run at the Adelaide Festival Centre.

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Twitter: @briangods

Suburban and Regional tour: Bookings through individual venues

Metropolitan Performances:
Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide
Season: 27 – 31 May 2014
Duration: 1 hour 15 mins
Tickets: $27.00 – $36.00
Bookings: Book through BASS online or phone 131 246


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