by Ed Malin · March 8, 2015
Rosemary Howard, Rob Skolits | Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrical Photography
How do you feel about yourself, your family, your neighbors? Do you think of the North American Free Trade Association and laugh? What would be your reaction to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership? How does free will play into all of the above?
Jerry Polner gives us all food for thought in his new play Quit The Road, Jack. Two former musicians, Ronnie (Rosemary Howard) and Virgil (Rob Skolits) have settled down, taken normal jobs, raised their sixteen year-old son, Jack (Jay Reum), lost the ability to communicate, and divorced.
While Virgil has immersed himself in inventing robots and Ronnie has gained custody of Jack due to her more stable employment as a teacher, Jack has taken the opportunity to denounce this crazy world and run away from home. Jack left lots of messages for his parents, yet they can only try to locate him through his small circle of friends. While Virgil and his would-be love interest and business assistant, Freda (Cynthia Bastidas) try to please the people to whom they have sold robots with complex personalities, Jack has happily landed in Mexico. There, he can try to change the world by inciting American tourists to join in protest against the impoverishing of Mexicans. Seeing as both sides of the border have conspired to make life difficult for the masses, Jack puts his frustration to great use. He even meets a slightly older but much more mature labor organizing woman (Jes Dugger) who gently advises him to stay on the El Paso side and work a bit more within the system. Ronnie and Virgil arrive in Mexico and have a charming talk with Jack’s friend and fellow runaway, Walt (Connor Johnson). I don’t know what is more heartwarming, the portrayal of the generation gap or Walt’s absolute need of something to eat. Several more adventures later, there is a showdown in court. The Judge (RJ Battle) and the questionable agents of justice (Jorge Marcos and Jaime Puerta) get physically absurd to point out how uneven the U.S.A.-Mexico relationship is. Don’t let me put any ideas in your head, go see the show and enjoy.
Director Jonathan Warman keeps the action going in this clever, action-packed, multi-location piece. I see many amusing parallels, such as the parents who can’t communicate but are cooperating to find their child (U.S.A. and Mexico trying to find a better future) and the robot endowed with free will who is dismayed at the world he’s been given (presumably, that’s the audience). The show is co-presented by ALIGN (the Alliance for a Greater New York), Community Voices Heard, The Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, and the New York Immigration Coalition, whose literature is made available to keep dialogue about these issues going. Eric Marchetta’s set is versatile and lends itself to cool projected images. Yuriy Nayer’s lighting distinguishes the varied settings well and adds some pleasant electronic moments. Maddie Peterson’s costumes are muy fantastico.