'Charming and Incisive, if Somewhat Predictable' CALENDAR Marks Playwriting Debut of Jack E. Chambers

Alicia Haymer Co-Stars With the Playwright Through September 16

By: Sep. 14, 2023
'Charming and Incisive, if Somewhat Predictable' CALENDAR Marks Playwriting Debut of Jack E. Chambers

'Charming and Incisive, if Somewhat Predictable' CALENDAR Marks Playwriting Debut of Jack E. Chambers For more than 30-plus years, Jack E. Chambers has been a stalwart of the Nashville stage, working with virtually every theater production company to ever exist here during those three-plus decades. And although audiences have seen him in a wide variety of roles (he’s taken on all kinds of characters to exist in an ever-evolving plane of fictional existence), it is perhaps on now, in the fall of 2023, that they have the opportunity to see the once fresh-faced, just-out-of-college Chambers – now grown into the affable middle-aged actor they eagerly anticipate onstage – as the thoughtful, observant and creative everyman he is.

Thanks to Chambers’ original play Calendar (perhaps best described as both charming and incisive, even if somewhat predictable), now onstage through this weekend at The Barbershop Theater in a joint production from Verge Theater Company and ToeToaster Productions, audiences see yet another Chambers alter ego emerge, much to their delight. As Jeff, a 50-year-old bachelor who personifies everything the younger and self-possessed Mel is not, Chambers is winningly, perhaps serendipitously, paired with the radiant Alicia Haymer (herself a theatrical multi-hyphenate who is reversed and respected by local theater-goers) to bring the two-hander to life with a light-hearted spirit leavened with ample authenticity and honesty. In fact, it’s safe to say that Haymer’s presence elevates Chambers’ performance and together, the two create an atmosphere within the intimate confines of The Barbershop that makes the experience for audience members all the more appealing.

'Charming and Incisive, if Somewhat Predictable' CALENDAR Marks Playwriting Debut of Jack E. Chambers
Alicia Haymer and Jack E. Chambers
- photos by Anthony Popolo

Chambers and Haymer are self-directed (ably assisted by the talented Candace-Omnira, who also stage manages and executes the multiple light/sound and video cues with aplomb), which is testament to their shared trust, just a much as it is to their estimable stage presence and the experience brought to bear during the sometimes funny, oftentimes touching and even heartbreaking one hour and 45 minutes in which the thought-provoking year of Jeff and Mel takes place onstage.

Clearly, Calendar is not epoch-shattering, nor is it particularly innovative, but it makes no such pretensions. Rather, the yearlong experiences shared by the couple reflect contemporary social relationships and, to his credit, Chambers is able to capture the nuances of a fledgling interracial romance with sensitivity that seems far more potent when acted onstage by the playwright and his scene partner. The arc of their relationship has a very natural ebb and flow that rings very true, enabling the two esteemed actors to seem unfettered by emotions (or the lack thereof) that have detracted from similar works we’ve encountered over the years.

Calendar. By Jack E. Chambers. Co-directed by Jack E. Chambers and Alicia Haymer. Stage managed and assistant directed by Candace-Omnira. Presented by Verge Theater Company and ToeToaster Productions at The Barbershop Theater, Nashville. Through September 16. For ticket information, go to www.vergetheaterco.org.

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