‘Jake’s Women’ will be performed Friday through Monday at U of M Crookston

    The weather outside might have been frightful Thursday night, but inside University of Minnesota Crookston’s Kiehle Auditorium, it was delightful. Crookston Community Theatre cast members performed a full dress rehearsal of the play “Jake’s Women” ahead of their weekend (and Monday) showcase. The cast of nine, directed by Joyce Johnson, reveal what’s happening in the real and imaginary worlds of Jake, a writer struggling with marriage and psychosis.

    Jake’s Women, a play by Neil Simon, follows Jake (played by Anders Berggren), in Act One, as his marriage to wife, Maggie (played by Beth Carlson), begins to fall apart. Jake is seen talking to his sister, Karen (played by Lynne Mullins), and later “speaking” to his wife. Soon thereafter, he confides in his daughter, Molly (younger Molly played by Lotte Whiting, older Molly played by both Victoria Proulx and Jessica Willits), when she was at age twelve (obviously imaginary) and, later, the younger Molly is replaced by the current Molly, who is actually in college.

    Writer’s Note: For a member of the audience not quite familiar with the former Broadway production, it’s difficult to determine what is imaginary and what is reality. I suppose, that’s what leads to the swirl of emotion that comes later in the Act.

    Later, Jake’s psychiatrist, Edith (played by Sue Meyer), mocks him and his problems. She coerces him into resurrecting (in his mind) his dead wife, Julie (played by Laura Delage.) Julie died at age 35 when Molly was young and Jake often thinks about her, recalling the “good times” when they, themselves, were younger.

   Note: It’s almost like Julie interferes with Jake’s mind, sometimes becoming her own “character” demanding attention when he’s trying to deal with reality.

    In Act Two, we learn that, while Maggie and Jake are separated, Jake has had several relationships, and Sheila (played by Cindy Fahser) is who he is with at the Act opening. Later, while Sheila and Jake converse, an imaginary Maggie argues with Jake causing an out-loud conflict which leads to Sheila getting “freaked out” and leaving.

    I won’t ruin the ending to this intense, powerful, mind-twisting production, so we will end with the fact that this isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill cheesy performance. It causes you to wonder what’s happening in your own life and leaves you thinking of what things hold you back from happiness, like what it did with Jake and his psychosis. Is it not being able to let go of the past? Was it because you didn’t take time to process a significant event and moved on too quickly? It’s a conundrum, for sure.

    Jake’s Women will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27, Saturday, Oct. 28, Sunday, Oct. 29, and Monday, Oct. 20 at UMC’s Kiehle Auditorium. Tickets are $12 at the door. The comedy is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.