nytheatre.com review by Natasha Yannacanedo
June 27, 2008
Julia May Jonas belongs on stage. Her one-woman show Take Heart weaves stories and songs into a tapestry of her bizarre childhood. Her sense of fun and mischief, which as a child led Jonas to give herself ear infections so she could stay home from school, is wonderfully alive at Performance Space 122.
Jonas's incredibly engaging and dry sense of humor makes the show almost like a standup comedy performance. "If you have a bad habit, do what you can to make it better," she says when referencing her expensive, chemical-free rolling papers as she prepares her cigarette.
As a child, Jonas found true joy in the world of musical theatre and worked with an eccentric director until the age of 15 in numerous musical productions. She brilliantly executes the musical numbers she performed during her childhood and the absurdity of a child playing the inappropriate parts of divorcees and alcoholics proves hilarious. Jonas camps it up with such precision one can not help but laugh. My favorite is her rendition of "The Portrait" from A...My Name is Alice. And, of course, it does not hurt that Jonas really does have a beautiful voice shining through her comedic shenanigans.
Jess Barbagallo should be applauded for her genius direction. She really makes Jonas shine and brings out the fabulous humor that makes this play so special.
One aspect of the play that I really wanted to like, but could not make peace with, was the use of the autoharp, which I found distracting. I wanted Jonas to continue on with the story and whenever she went back to play the autoharp, I felt a bit derailed from the journey of the play.
The minimal set and lighting works well so we can focus on Jonas's storytelling. The use of simple props also serves the piece. The one visual extravagance of the show is Normandy Raven Sherwood's creative and funky costume, which beautifully highlights Jonas's ludicrous and larger-than-life character.
All in all, Take Heart is a show definitely worth checking out—and you only have until Wednesday so make your reservations now!