By: Paulanne Simmons
"Canning" is the word we use when we preserve food by sealing it in an airtight container. This assumes we are putting the food in a metal container, usually shaped like a cylinder. But suppose we preserve that food in a glass container, such as the one invented in 1858 by John Landis Mason?
One might come up with "jarring," but this word has an entirely different meaning, the one Tracy Weller undoubtedly had in mind when she used "Jarring" as the title of the new solo show she wrote and now performs at Mason Holdings‘ theater at 225 E. Houston Street.
This is not to say that Mason jars don’t play a big role in the show. Descending a narrow staircase, the audience enters a basement that’s one-part kitchen and one-part stage, initially hidden by a makeshift curtain. Soon a woman, wearing rubber gloves and an apron, enters and pulls the curtain aside, revealing shelves with row upon row of Mason jars. The woman bids the jars "good morning" and proceeds to lecture the audience on the benefits and history of the jars, which she seems to regard as personal friends.
The woman frequently repeats herself, occasionally loses her train of thought and gets more and more agitated in her speech. It doesn’t take long for it to become obvious this woman’s obsession with Mason jars and her visceral hatred of cans is not quite normal. So by the time we fully understand exactly where this woman is and what she is doing, we are not so much surprised as confirmed in our suspicions.
As directed with macabre sensitivity by Kristjan Thor, Weller’s 70-minute descent into the depths of insanity is in many ways fascinating. At times it is highly disturbing. The disintegration of the human personality is never pleasant, especially when it is so very well done.
"Jarrying" is not for everyone. But if you have a somewhat morbid fascination with the vagaries of the human mind and appreciate a haunting tour-de-force by a more than capable actress, this is a must-see.
Jarring runs through May 17, 2015, at 225 E. Houston St. www.eventbrite.com.
Photos: Joshua Paul Johnson
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