Well this is a charming little piece of fluff: an unusual story; some great lines; excellent acting. This cast is having so much fun that Patch Darragh is almost unrecognizable. Every serious bone in his body has taken a vacation.
Jack Lovington (Darragh) is caught in a bind. It is 1958 and he has actually moved in with his fiancée, Aurora, (Keira Naughton) and discovered that he no longer wants to marry her. He is having impure thoughts about joining the Roller Derby. He confesses as much more than once in a 24 hour period to Father Kosciusko (Todd Weeks) who gives him an addled absolution and suggests he fess up to Aurora.
Meanwhile the fast talking Lenny Ringle (Billy Eugene Jones) catches up with Jack at his second job driving a taxi and convinces him that the Roller Derby is his destiny. Jack joins up with the likes of Jerry “Three Nuts” Kiger (Weeks) and Charlie Heartbreak (Christopher Jackson) for three months of Roller Derby Heaven. Ringle has a barnstorming tour in mind that will lead them to Madison Square Garden for the Roller Derby Championships.
While the entire men’s and women’s teams are a little light in the head and heavy into the brute force department, it is Lindy Batello (Jeanine Serralles) who leads them all in the unbalanced when off her meds department. The teams tour the circuit – Hartford, Rochester – you get the idea – and Lenny is right there dreaming dreams and trying to find his way into becoming a mega tycoon. Meanwhile back in Brooklyn, Father Kosciusko is watching the demographics of his church change and noticing that Jack’s fiancée may be changing horses.
The raggedy life of the Roller Derby is vivid and vicious. The choreography of the races works brilliantly without a roller skate in sight. These people are like hockey players on steroids, and they are made more shocking by the inclusion of women who would like to rip the heart out of anyone who gets in their way.
Jack’s letters to Father K become more poetic and distraught as life becomes a series of motels and roller rinks. He becomes despondent about Aurora and inevitably Lindy and Jack hook up in a sort of pity night and Jack becomes the bearer of a brand new STD. Nothing is quite what it seems however, and the story zigs and zags like a roller coaster off its track.
Characters surprise one another as well as the audience. When all is said and done, Jack returns to a home that is not the way he left it. His heart has been broken and his head turned every which way. Jones and his fine director have put together a play that becomes a parable of sorts.
This is a play that you won’t take with you, but it is sure fun to roll with.
"Sometimes you just crave ice cream - a sweet treat. Same goes for plays. That’s exactly what 'The Jammer' delivers."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"Despite their energetic efforts and the inventive staging, 'The Jammer' mostly spins its wheels.
Frank Scheck for New York Post
"Delivers a beautiful story in a beautiful way."
Suzy Evans for Back Stage
"Is meant to be a romantic fable, but its depiction of love among the working class is so wildly scattered, arch and shallow, it has little magic."
Robert Feldberg for The Record
"An endearing oddball of a show."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...