In the Company of Jane Doe
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
May 17, 2012
Tiffany Antone's new play In the Company of Jane Doe is built around a terrific premise: what if a stressed-out, over-extended, fast-tracking businesswoman (like the play's eponymous Jane Doe) decided to clone herself, so there would be two of her, instead of one, to get all the work done?
Antone follows this premise, which is not as fantastical as it might have seemed even a few years ago, to a more-or-less logical conclusion in this play, with the twist revolving about an important omission Jane makes when telling the doctors and scientists who are cloning her all of the facts about herself. I liked the places that Antone takes Jane and her clone, Jenny, and the truths their journey reveals.
There are tonal problems, though, in both script and production, that keep Jane Doe from being the resounding success that I believe it can be. We aren't given enough information about Jane's life before her big decision to change it, and so there's nothing to contrast with the results that ensue. And there are repeated allusions to the North Pole and cold weather that don't coalesce and wind up feeling like a bunch of red herrings.
Director Paul Urcioli ratchets up the play's light, whimsical tone so that a lot of the humor feels heavy-handed. This is especially true in the performance of Jason Guy as Dr. Snafu, the head of Jane's cloning team. He seems to be conceived here as a Monty Python-esque satire of medical incompetence, which might be funny if he weren't such a pivotal character. A running gag involving his inability to enter a room without multiple do-overs repeatedly falls flat.
But there are some fine performances offered by Marta Kuersten as the stressed-out heroine, Sarah Brill as her clone (who may be more "naturally" smart than the original), Brooke Berry as the more grounded Dr. Annabelle, and Francesca Day as Jane's down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is secretary, Ruby. In the Company of Jane Doe has some insightful things to say about the things we value in ourselves (as opposed to the things we think we're supposed to value). I think it merits further development, and would be interested in seeing other works by Antone.