Peter Martin Presents
Behind the Façade of Jackie O.
The Triad Theater, NYC
Written and Performed by Andrea Reese
With Paul Urban as Dr Jacobson
Directed by Charles Messina
Photography/Hair/Makeup: Lisa Kapler
Lighting/Sound: Tonya Pierre
Costumes: Claudia Montes Edlin, Victoria Runco
Scenic Design: Victor Flynn
House Manager: Matt Gliddon
Press: DARR Publicity Group
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 31, 2004
I have always admired Jackie Kennedy, the name I preferred, for her stoic grace and class, during her years as First Lady and during the later years as arts advocate (Carnegie Hall, ABT), as a devoted mother, and as a woman who took risks in love and in life (As a child, she wanted to join the circus, or “Cirque”). Andrea Reese’s sensationalized portrait of a neurotic and defiant student, a neurotic and scorned wife, an equally neurotic and needy daughter, a drug (amphetamine) addict, a chain-smoker, a gold-digger (Onassis), and a callous wife (as Onassis died), is contrasted to her portrait of a devoted mother and grandmother, a devoted companion to Maurice Tempelsman, and a classy, graceful patient, quickly dying of Lymphoma. Fortunately the latter portrait supercedes the former, which I found more difficult to watch.
The constant re-enactments of the neuroses, the unflattering body language of the drug scenes, and the implied psychological analyses of Jackie’s choices of three men (philandering, abusive, already married, who, in some form, mimicked the dysfunctional nature of her own father, from whom she longed for approval and attention) were tough to experience, in that Jackie Kennedy always exuded such a private and reserved veneer. Mrs. Kennedy and her children, with all the sadness of their lives, would not have approved of or felt a comfort level with this dark and deep disclosure of what may be truth, but is certainly better in biographical studies and essays, rather than in a tiny, West Side theatre, with a “doctor” occasionally walking onstage with his eery needle.
Had this character been a long-forgotten actress or a longer-forgotten political figure, the work may have had a different effect. But, so many of us remember that dreadful day in 1963, when we lost the President of our dreams, and with all the ensuing tabloid stories of his illicit affairs and frequent flirtations, he still remains a Prince of Camelot, and no subsequent President or presidential candidate had the class and presence of Jack Kennedy, nor did any subsequent First Lady have the international education and sophistication of Jackie Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy was an inspiration to many of us. Andrea Reese’s Jackie Kennedy is neither inspiring, nor worth this experience.
We all know that Lymphoma is an ugly disease, with loss of hair and loss of energy, loss of balance and loss of memory, loss of weight and loss of confidence. The high point of Ms. Reese’s act was during Mrs. Kennedy’s final moments, when she asked her grandchild to play in another room, so she could take a nap. She knew death was near, and she was a class act to the finish. I would like to see this work without props, sets, costumes, and offstage doctor. Perhaps just a spoken monologue, discarding the injections and the assassination scene, might be an improvement. Some historical events and characters are best remembered where we want them, in Camelot.
Andrea Reese as Jackie O.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Kapler