The name of this play caught my eye first: my own parents’ names really are Dick and Jane. But – as I very quickly learned – the “Dick” which this Jane is trying to give up….isn’t a specific person.
Based on playwright Devin Dearing Preston’s own blog, See Jane Give Up Dick concerns Jane (Meghan Mae O’Neill) , a single girl who’s had one too many bad dates and bad relationships. After one particularly bad breakup, and a string of bad hookups, she resolves to do what lots of other frustrated single women sometimes consider doing - give up dating (or, more specifically, give up sex) for one whole year.
Some of the jokes Jane cracks in the early phase of her mission aren’t anything new (see Jane stop shaving! See Jane eat lots of ice cream! See Jane think of getting a cat!), but O’Neill is wonderfully bubbly and engaging, and the audience is quickly and happily swept up in her tale. Sometimes more than they intended – O’Neill occasionally mugs or flirts with a couple of game-looking audience members, and she somehow got one audience member to happily confess to having had a threesome only five minutes into the show. She’s also a wonderful physical comedienne – the sequence in which she acts out “taking myself out on a date” is an especial treat.
But then, once O’Neill’s charm has lulled you in, that’s when Preston’s script really strikes. With more time on her hands, Jane has more time for self-reflection about her own part in her bad dating luck; after O’Neill’s earlier charm, seeing her pain as Jane comes to some uncomfortable epiphanies is a genuine punch to the gut. And even though Jane bounces back up happily again, O’Neill is just that tiniest bit graver. The script does go on to speak of the last day of Jane’s resolution, her meeting a nice guy, and the resulting, er, happy ending – but then, impressively, it goes on to speak of that moment’s surprising aftermath, and points toward a much wiser, stronger Jane going on to make her own, even happier, ending.