Jason ★★★ The Vaults | January 24 - 29, 2023


Shirley Clarke's 1967 documentary film, Portrait of Jason, focuses on a character who, as the result of a traumatic childhood, has been robbed of a coherent sense of self. He then tries to piece together a persona from old films and self-invention, and he sustains this fragile construct through self-medication with alcohol and drugs. Jason, the play, is a verbatim staging of the filming experience re-embodying the lost individual who survives through ruses, cons and role-playing while simultaneously showing the film of the real Jason. By creating this meta-version of the film, it seems to be the show's intention to reflect on the relationship of art and reality and to reinforce the fact that documentary film is a creative endeavour, thus shaping and falsifying the experience it chronicles. The fact that the filmmakers have complex, mixed motives when they film their subject only highlights this truth. However, what seemed shocking and revolutionary about the interviewee's life and about the filmmakers' behaviour in 1967 now lacks a sense of being particularly avant-garde. As Jason, Marcus Amaglo is engagingly convincing, but the simultaneous projection of the real person on screen sometimes distracts from his performance. Chloe Claudel as Shirley Clarke and Ju Zahkarii as Carl Lee are both credible as the filmmakers who have complex motives in making their film. However, at the centre of both the film and the play is simply as sad, lost individual who desperately craves attention to make himself feel whole. Unfortunately for us, his situation and this exposure of the documentary form no longer seem as unique or compelling as they might have been when the film was made, and recasting them in a play doesn't seem to add very much to the original.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Lidia Crisafulli.

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