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Review: THE PACT at Jarrott Productions is a Sweet Deal For Austin

Review: THE PACT at Jarrott Productions is a Sweet Deal For Austin

Austin playwright Max Langert's World Premiere runs through October 15th

On his website, Austin playwright Max Langert says he writes plays about "crummy work environments and failed relationships. But they're usually at least a little bit funny." To my recollection, there were no crummy work environments mentioned in Jarrott Productions recent premiere of Langert's THE PACT. However, if failed relationships means trolling a hot guy wearing a flesh colored swimsuit on a dating site, or presuming your husband is cheating on you, then yes, maybe. Also, fortunately for us, THE PACT is a dark comedy handled with a light touch, and it's more than at least a little bit funny.

THE PACT IS a play about "family, pizza, climate change, dating apps, and fringe religious sects...in that order." Directed with a swift pace by Will Gibson Douglas and performed on a utilitarian set, THE PACT concerns matriarch Carol (Lisa Scheps) and patriarch Glenn (David R. Jarrott) who have made a pact out of their concern for aging, their footprint on the environment, and climate change. They're a quirky couple, who raised the paranoid Susan (Jennifer Jennings) and her neurotic sister Nancy (Natalie D. Garcia). Maybe their behavior makes sense, given their parents are prone to invite them over for dinner and retreat to the bedroom to have sex in the middle of a consequential family conversation.

Dinner, and the conversation about THE PACT is also interrupted by Susan's obsessive need for her parents to not touch things in her room, despite the fact that she moved out long ago and has a 23 year old daughter. Enter Nancy next, who is obsessed with the guys she meets on dating apps and their thirst trap photos. Never mind her inability to accept even a decent job, or what the guys she wants to date do to make money, either. If this wasn't enough, the superior quality of the pizza ordered for dinner becomes yet another distraction that prevents an increasingly frustrated Glenn from dropping his news about THE PACT. What's worse, a text from Susan's daughter, Keira (Hannah Schochler) who may have been involved in a bad accident, drags everyone out of the house in search of her. I shouldn't say more. Beyond this synopsis, I might be giving away the rest of this amusing, if at times, uneven plot.

A pared down set on the blackbox stage at the Vortex gives this cast and the script the spotlight in Jarrott Productions first full live show since the pandemic. Jarrott performs the part of the dogged and frustrated Glenn with ease and charm, while a bevy of self assured, if not self aware women, command attention all around him. He's a self aware chap himself. We know this because of his journal entries - the journal he leaves in places where everyone can find it. Scheps gives Carol an upbeat and assured air despite her skepticism about agreeing to THE PACT. As Nancy the cheerful favorite daughter, Garcia is quick and affable, even when under accusation from her sister. Jennings is never a disappointment, and she is a delight as the unreasonably suspicious and overbearing Susan. Schochler seems to imbue Keira with the kind of simultaneous indifference and concern that makes millennials perplexing to Boomers.

There are places in the script that wouldn't be hurt by some fleshing out. Glenn and Carol are likable parents, but we don't learn enough about them to give us any idea why their daughters and granddaughter are just on this side of being certifiable. I kept waiting for more to be revealed here. Douglas directs this talented cast with a bent toward the quick pacing that lets us know this is a comedy. However, in doing so, some scenes are sacrificed that might have been more touching. This is a premiere though, and problems with the script and pacing can be fleshed out with time. Additionally, there were a few minor faltering moments that may have contributed to some uneven pacing on opening night, but nothing that a couple more performances have probably solved.

Langert's THE PACT is a fun launch for Jarrott Productions after a three year unplanned pandemic hiatus. Jarrott Productions typically produces previously known works and Austin playwright Langert's THE PACT is a pleasant foray from their usual fare. I'm excited about what this company has in store for us now that they're back in the swing of performing for live audiences.

THE PACT

Produced by Jarrott Productions

at The VORTEX

September 29th through October 15th

Tickets available here

More information at www.jarrottproductions.com


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From This Author - Joni Lorraine


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Langert’s THE PACT is a fun launch for Jarrott Productions after a three year unplanned pandemic hiatus.