By Ellen Pascoe.
I’ve very much taken for granted the fact that we have our own theatre on campus here at Essex. I’ve seen a lot of shows at the Lakeside Theatre but not nearly as many productions as a Drama and Literature student entering her third year should have. The trouble is we all too easily fall into the same routine and then before you know it, that show you were looking forward to seeing has come and gone and you forgot all about it because you were binging the new season of ‘Black Mirror’ on Netflix. (I know this is a millennial cliche but wow! I’ve been forced to take a break after that episode with Bronn from ‘Game of Thrones’. Might be my favourite show ever but that’s a topic for another time!) Therefore THIS year I decided I was going to take hold of this fantastic opportunity of theatre for six pounds and try and see something at least once a fortnight. This was how I discovered a play that has earned the grand position of placing in my ‘Top Five Favourite Plays of All Time.’ *SOUND OF TRUMPETS AND APPLAUSE*
Walking into the auditorium for Zoe Cooper’s ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ I had absolutely no idea of the sort of production I was about to witness as my only clues were a few chairs, microphones and a pile of dirt – not a lot to go on! What followed was a fantastically beautiful piece of theatre as Jess (Nichola Coughlan) and Joe (Rhys Isaac-Jones) perform the story of their friendship. Jumping in and out of the script which the two young characters say they have been rehearsing, we observe how these two people from different classes find comfort and solace in one another as their friendship forms, develops, is broken, rekindled and thrives into a form of love as they see each other for who they are inside, particularly at a time where no one else does.
I can’t recall the last time that I just kept sitting in my seat after a performance had ended but that’s exactly what I did in this instance. I just sat there. I didn’t know whether to cry a little bit or leave the auditorium with a big grin on my face. I ended up keeping my eyes dry but perhaps that grin poked out at the corners of my mouth! I left campus that Thursday night with a copy of the play text in my bag and a massive sense of relief that I hadn’t let this play slip by like previous productions.
Photo credit: ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ (sourced from https://www.orangetreetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/jess-and-joe-forever/gallery)
JESS AND JOE FOREVER
Written by Zoe Cooper
Directed by Derek Bond
Starring Nichola Coughlan and Rhys Isaac-Jones