Review by: Beverly Horton
In her director’s notes, Crystal Jonasson presents a beautifully simple, straightforward description of the play. “Jane’s Thumb is the story of a mother and her child on the great adventure of birth.” One might expect a similarly simple, straightforward narrative structure for the play: “expectant Mommy narrative” on the outside, “soon-to-be-born baby narrative” on the inside…and then outside. One might expect cast members Andrea Adcock and Allison Warwick to work through the two narratives, one taking on the “mommy narrative” and the other the “baby narrative.” Simple right? Well… not so much. Throw the fairytale Thumbelina into the mix, (not a Disney-fied version, something much grittier).
What results from these overlapping narrative layers is an engagingly complex structure which pushes the play forward (baby-birthing allusion intended). Jane, the librarian and expectant mother, notes that “some are made for nurturing and others for cross-referencing” and this concept of cross-referencing captures the dynamics of the play. Cast members Andrea Adcock and Allison Warwick slide in and out of the “real-life” and fairytale layers that knot, release, and knot together again.
Warwick moves from Yoga instructor, to stern, Scottish obstetrics nurse, to baby “Thumb” whose birth is animated by and narrated through the sometimes frightening fairytale-adventures of Thumbelina. Adcock is particularly compelling in her transformation from Jane–the “cross-referencing,” expectant mother–to several menacing Thumbelina characters, and then back to Jane.
Note: Before seeing the play, give Thumbelina a quick read. If you’re uneasy about reading fairytales in public, do your pre-play “homework” by reading to a child. If you don’t have a child of your own, do some “drive-by parenting.” Read Thumbelina to your “just-for-an-hour” child then send him or her back home.