What a joy to finally experience a live event in company with a socially distanced group of like-minded audience members! That’s what drew me to the second iteration of
Tell Him It’s Jackie, previously performed at the end of 2020.
The play revolves around Jackie’s double tragedy, as she tries to navigate the shock of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, a scant five years after the death of President Jack Kennedy. The genesis of the play came from Dugan’s insight that to watch the shooting unfurl in real time was, indeed, like watching some sort of macabre re-run.
Dugan’s narrative tries to do justice to the unimaginable horror Jackie must have experienced on the fateful night of June 5, 1968. He has enlisted Kait Haire for the role of Jackie Kennedy, who looks like a younger Jackie, even though she was approaching 40 at the time. Dugan’s writing and Haire’s performance holds us in thrall as the details of Jackie’s life unspool before us; her early life, the romance with handsome, philandering Jack, and the details of his death in Dallas. We begin to understand the oft-rumored romance between Jackie and her brother-in-law as the safe harbor that helped her navigate that disaster. Now pills and bourbon are the only companions to guide her beyond the shock of Bobby’s murder.
We experience, with Jackie, the culmination of this pain, and it seems as if there annihilation offers the only surcease from such anguish. That Jackie finds her way beyond this moment leads us from despair to hope. At once a wrenching evocation, yet an explanation of how a woman is called upon to navigate her life, Tell Him It’s Jackie ends on a note of hope.
Tell Him It’s Jackie, a one-woman show written by Tom Dugan, plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm at Dugan’s Backyard Theatre in Woodland Hills through the end of May. Tickets are $20.00. For reservations and directions: firstname.lastname@example.org.