The audience members around me are excited. They chat to me about Sarah Jones, and praise her last piece, the Tony Award winning Bridge and Tunnel presented on Broadway in 2006. I become equally excited and intrigued because of their chatter, as I am one of the sad few who didn’t have a chance to see this show over at the Helen Hays Theatre. They tell me I will be amazed at how incredible she is in flipping from one fleshed out character to another, and how smoothly and quickly she does it. I will attest to you right now that all this praise is absolutely true and on display here in Sell/Buy/Date. In abundance.
Each one of her many multicultural portrayals are brilliantly detailed in mannerisms, accent, and body language, while also being very real and moving in content. I was especially struck by the older woman character, as I watched Jone’s hands shake in a manner that was so true and real, I was blown away. But, or should I say, BUT, these characterizations are just the tip of the iceberg in regard to where the true artistry lies is this dazzling new work. Her power and genius is based more on what this assortment of characters are saying, much more then what they are doing or how they speak.
I give Jones total kudos for broaching this difficult subject and tearing it apart on so many levels. It’s a theatrical dissertation on the cultural impact of the sex worker industry and with women working in the sex industry, at the same time showing her mind blowing ability to transform herself into numerous souls telling us their stories. Teaching us through story telling. Inspiring us by being inspired by another’s real life experiences. Enlightening and engaging us while being entertained. All of this vividly presented to us by a futuristic professor giving a lecture on the history of sex workers in America in the 20th century, using a new technology called BERT, Bio-empathetic resonant technology, “so people in the future will be able to feel my experience–and my memory”. The set up, thanks to director Carolyn Cantor is instantly engaging, well choreographed, perfectly designed (Scenic/costume design-Dane Laffrey; lighting design-Eric Southern; sound design-Bray Poor) and extremely smart. A standing ovation for all those souls on the stage, and for all those who’s lives she speaks too. My hope is that it reverberates throughout our world and our time, into the hearts and minds of all inspiring change and discussion. This upcoming election is showing us how important such dialogue is in America, and I only hope Jones continues in her educating of us all. She deserves a PhD for this work.