EdFringe 2022 Review: Jesus, Jane, Mother and Me

Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me, the latest work from writer and director Philip Stokes serves as a twisted coming of age tale blending pitch black humour and heartache for haunting results. Actor Jack Stokes delivers this seventy minute monologue in this one-man show at Edinburgh Fringe’s Pleasance Dome until August 29th.

Daniel Valentine’s passions in life are his mother, Jesus Christ and Jane McDonald. There’s nothing more Daniel loves more than researching Jane with his mother in their home’s nerve centre, until one day mother’s actions cause it to all go horribly wrong. Returning home on Mother’s Day, Daniel seeks to heal old wounds and get their relationship back on track.

Beginning with deciding to share a blood red feather duster with his neighbour thanks to a spot of 2 for 1 shopping, the well-spoken and overtly formal Daniel soon showcases another side when his gift is rebuffed with his soft gentle tones turning to vitriolic anger. This gives us an early insight into complex personal psyche of Daniel which gradually unfurls as Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me advances and the young man delves into his troubling backstory. Bullying at school, neglect from his mother, and feigning illness to gain meet and greets with Jane all became part of the parcel for Daniel’s experience, yet the young man is blinded by his unwavering love for his mother and Jane, readily making excuses for the shocking reasons he had to suffer.

Jack Stokes layers the role with a maze of complexity capturing Daniel’s vulnerability and fractured mental state behind a veneer of intelligence and righteousness. There are undoubtedly echoes of Norman Bates running through Daniel with moral piety and adoration for their respective mothers showcased in both characters. Stokes is an impressive storyteller, the sole performer on stage and holding our attention for a quick seventy minutes.

Capturing shades of dark humour throughout from Daniel’s description of a Jane McDonald concert like the unfolding of a miracle or the Second Coming, to sparing use of Jane McDonald tracks at various stages during the show – as well as references to her media empire from Cruising to Loose Women. There’s a tragic undercurrent running throughout Daniel’s mother’s love for Jane with non-attendance from school to homelessness all becoming repercussions of the obsession.

Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me enters pitch black emotional territory by its macabre final moments where the collective trauma of Daniel’s experiences rears its head in quite a powerful final note.

Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me runs until August 29th at the Fringe’s Pleasance Dome. Get your tickets here.

Lead photo: Craig Lomas

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