Jamaica Farwell Review - One-Woman Show is Funny, Moving

 

Written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt, Jamaica, Farewell is produced by Hershey Felder and directed by Joel Zwick. Jamaica, Farewell runs through Sunday, October 11 at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. For additional information visit JamaicaFarewellThePlay.com. Purchase tickets at TicketMaster.com or the Royal George box office at (312) 988-9000. Photo courtesy of Chuck Osgood of Charles Osgood Photography

 

Jamaica Farewell, a one-woman autobiographical show written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt, follows a woman’s journey to escape a politically unstable Jamaica and achieve her dream of coming to America. Sweet, funny, sad, suspenseful, and touching all at once, this gem of a performance is absolutely worth seeing.

 

Written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt, Jamaica, Farewell is produced by Hershey Felder and directed by Joel Zwick. Jamaica, Farewell runs through Sunday, October 11 at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. For additional information visit JamaicaFarewellThePlay.com. Purchase tickets at TicketMaster.com or the Royal George box office at (312) 988-9000. Photo courtesy of Chuck Osgood of Charles Osgood Photography

 

It is difficult to create a successful one-person show. A single performer can only accomplish so much, and all autobiographical material runs the risk of becoming self-indulgent. However, it is no surprise that Jamaica Farewell has won multiple awards; Ehrhardt is more engaging in her writing and solo performance than many shows with full casts and known playwrights. From her first moments onstage, Ehrhardt wins the audience over with a charming rendition of “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” a song that is cleverly reprised later in the show, and her likable persona makes it easy for the audience to root for her success. Ehrhardt’s transformation into a variety of characters, including her deeply religious mother, her alcoholic father, and her American sweetheart, Jack, is both subtle and precise, with the story never losing coherence or clarity in the face of these transformations.

 

Written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt, Jamaica, Farewell is produced by Hershey Felder and directed by Joel Zwick. Jamaica, Farewell runs through Sunday, October 11 at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. For additional information visit JamaicaFarewellThePlay.com. Purchase tickets at TicketMaster.com or the Royal George box office at (312) 988-9000. Photo courtesy of Chuck Osgood of Charles Osgood Photography

 

One of the great challenges of any nonfiction piece is sorting through what is necessary for the storytelling and what is superfluous information. Ehrhardt’s writing is tight and focused, with every anecdote and detail tying into the larger plot as the story progresses. At times, the play feels as much like an action film as a piece of memoir, but even in the face of an exciting, high-stakes plot, the story never loses its personal touch, and the knowledge that the story is drawn from Ehrhardt’s own experience amplifies both its intensity and its humanness. Ehrhardt blends tones wonderfully, allowing us to experience her sorrow, her fear, and her joy in intertwining ways, giving us a genuine reflection of her inner life that is magnificent to witness.

 

Written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt, Jamaica, Farewell is produced by Hershey Felder and directed by Joel Zwick. Jamaica, Farewell runs through Sunday, October 11 at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. For additional information visit JamaicaFarewellThePlay.com. Purchase tickets at TicketMaster.com or the Royal George box office at (312) 988-9000. Photo courtesy of Chuck Osgood of Charles Osgood Photography

 

The design for this show was excellent as well. Often  the one-person show is associated with a bare stage, a single stool, and a performer dressed in black, but the world of Jamaica Farewell is filled with color and texture. Set, sound, lights, and costumes work together to create a vibrant atmosphere, blending the tropical paradise of Jamaica with the impulse to travel. Suitcases and jungle leaves are important motifs, and the design elements tell the story in a way that is as direct and engaging as the story itself.  Sound design by Erik Carstensen brings Ehrhardt’s world to life in vivid and sometimes unexpected ways. All this is pulled together brilliantly by director Joel Zwick, of Full House and My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, whose artistic vision contributed greatly to the realization of this beautiful performance piece in the Royal George.

 

Written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt, Jamaica, Farewell is produced by Hershey Felder and directed by Joel Zwick. Jamaica, Farewell runs through Sunday, October 11 at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. For additional information visit JamaicaFarewellThePlay.com. Purchase tickets at TicketMaster.com or the Royal George box office at (312) 988-9000. Photo courtesy of Chuck Osgood of Charles Osgood Photography

 

Jamaica Farewell is autobiographical solo performance at its finest. Debra Ehrhardt is an exceptionally gifted writer and performer, and the production team at the Royal George has done a marvelous job bringing her story to life. Get your tickets to this compelling, endearing piece of theatre before it’s gone.

 

Written and performed by Debra Ehrhardt, Jamaica, Farewell is produced by Hershey Felder and directed by Joel Zwick. Jamaica, Farewell runs through Sunday, October 11 at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. For additional information visit JamaicaFarewellThePlay.com. Purchase tickets at TicketMaster.com or the Royal George box office at (312) 988-9000. Photo courtesy of Chuck Osgood of Charles Osgood Photography

 

Ticket Information

Dates: September 8, 2015-October 11, 2015

Times: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm; Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 2:00pm and 8:00pm; Sundays at 3:00pm

Location: The Royal George Theatre, 1641 North Halsted

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased by calling (312) 988-9000 or by visiting Ticketmaster.

For more information about Jamaica Farewell, you can visit the Jamaica Farewell website.

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