Review: Jasper at Big Idea Theatre
Are inner dialogues our friends or our foes? What happens when inner dialogues manifest into imaginary friends or disruptive delusional mental burdens?
Jasper, debuting at Big Idea Theatre, is an intriguing and thought-provoking self-described “romantic-bromantic comedy” by local playwright J.P. Malin. It opens with a struggling Clarence and his invisible sidekick Jasper in a court-ordered therapy session.
Clarence and Jasper are an unbreakable team, best friends ever since Clarence was a young boy. Clarence either invented or physically accepted Jasper into his life to help him cope with drama, as well as to take blame for all of his bad decisions. The audience sees Jasper, but no one else does. That is, until Clarence meets a woman who has a female version of her own Jasper.
It’s the world premiere of a fascinating play with well-written and fast-paced dialogue, interesting characters and a provocative look at mental health issues. The ending is a bit convoluted and needs some tweaking, but the main story still resonates.
Malin said that he started working on the play 10 years ago, and revised and workshopped the script over time. Now, he says “it has grown into a play about purpose, personhood, and how our connections to others shape our identities.”
The cast is a well-synchronized team, headed by Thomas Dean as Clarence, Jacob Garcia as Jasper, Mallory Brodeur as Elle and Devin Valdez as Lily. And the circular revolving stage is an imaginative method of scene changing; with just a swipe, a therapist office rotates to an apartment that rotates to a restaurant.