This is less a review than it is a love letter. Jigsaw, written and acted by Molly Parker, retracing her experience growing up with two non-verbal autistic brothers, is the best example of digital theatre I’ve seen at NSDF21. Authentic, imaginative, intimate and energetic, Jigsaw doesn’t feel like theatre adapted for screen, but theatre meant for a digital platform. The emotional intensity of the show stays with you long after you’ve seen it.
The show is a powerful blend of spoken word and music. The band, superimposed on four jigsaw pieces behind Molly, blend into and emotionally emphasise her story. The volumes and intensities of the music both respond to and influence Molly’s emotions. For instance, Molly’s first mention of her brother being non-verbal coincides with the slow deconstruction of one of the songs. I was completely moved.
The camera does not merely film the show, but adopts an active role, held by director Matt Owen. It moves with Molly, following her as she walks across the stage, zooming in an out, being spoken to. In part four, Matt’s voice is heard behind the camera — it is never something that we pretend isn’t there. In an on-stage, meta-theatrical conversation between Matt and Molly (producer Kate Chalmer’s voice offstage) about the process of creating Jigsaw, there are three cameras at play, two of which we see. There is literally nothing hidden from us here.
Molly’s acting is energetic and arresting. The ebbs and flows of her emotions feel completely real, and her body and voice is in constant conversation with the music and her surroundings (it helps that there is also so much to look at onstage, such as clothes, crumpled newspapers, chairs, bottles, and jigsaw pieces covering the walls).
From Molly’s writing, to music composition, to the band in jigsaw pieces on the wall, Jigsaw is a labour of love. Every creative aspect of this play works in conversation with the others. It is utterly brilliant.