John & Jen ★★★★★ Southwark Playhouse | Jul 28 - Aug 21, 2021


John and Jen is blessed with two of the best performances you are likely to see this year. In this engaging tale of family love and loss, Rachel Tucker and Lewis Cornay play a brother and sister, and later a mother and son. Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald's show began life almost thirty years ago but has been neatly updated. We follow these two people from cradle to grave, and there is great humour and sensitivity as the years swiftly pass. Nevertheless, things never feel rushed in Guy Retallack's sharp production which is helped enormously by Andrew Exeter's immaculate lighting. The songs are accompanied by beautiful arrangements for the four piece band, but it is the performances which really make everything work. Given her experience starring in the West End and on Broadway, Rachel Tucker is unsurprisingly terrific; she melts hearts and sings up a storm in her climactic number. She seamlessly moves from stroppy teenager to overly protective mother, and the baseball game is certainly a highlight. This is a tremendous performance. It is, however, Lewis Cornay as John who is the revelation. For much of the show he is playing a kid and he does so with a delightful sense of youthful glee as well as moments of heartbreak. Lewis has a wonderfully expressive face and terrific voice, and knows how to use them with phenomenal sensitivity. There is captivating chemistry between these two actors which enables us to be totally enraptured. This is a charming show crowned by triumphant performances. Definitely, don't miss it!

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Danny Kaan.

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