The Jammer: a Roller Derby Love Story
nytheatre.com review by J Jordan & Don Jordan
August 15, 2004
The Jammer!, by Rolin Jones arrives at this year’s FringeNYC Festival promising a performance that is “half sport, half show, all action,” as well as calling itself “the King Lear of roller derby plays”. The sport in question is, of course, roller derby and the show centers around a young man working in a cardboard factory with the God-given talents of speed and style that propel him into the sport’s seedy underworld. With the luxury of a very professional (i.e., well-heeled) production team, all of whom graduated from Yale School of Drama and have worked together in the past, The Jammer! certainly does its best to fulfill these goals.
On some levels the show is very successful, including a very talented cast, especially Jeanine Serrales as a madcap named Lindy. The creative use of space was very simple yet specific, and set designer Sandra Goldmark deserves accolades for fitting a rollerdome-sized show into a small rehearsal space. The roller derby choreography, seamlessly created by Tim Acito, is sharp and clever. The story, while contrived and predictable, is fun and well-paced and the writing is tight if not original.
It was obvious, however, that this was not the first venue in which the show had appeared, and for this reason The Jammer! seems out of place. Why is such a slick production appearing as part of the Fringe and playing in a dinky little rehearsal room? Additionally, everyone on stage and in the audience seemed to be from Yale except for the two of us, and we felt like there was an inside joke we had been left out of. (J felt like she was crashing the party rather than being invited to it.)
In the end, though, The Jammer! is hard not to like—a fine piece of theater that lived up to one of its promises. We’re not so sure about the King Lear thing, but we’ll ‘roll’ with it.