HELP ME GET OVER YOU by Rollin Jewett
DOWNTOWN URBAN ARTS FESTIVAL
Reviewed by Erin Rhodes-Carlon
The festival or workshop is a place for plays to grow, yes, but it can also be a place for ideas to begin the gestation process. Rollin Jewett’s “Help Me Get Over You” at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival was one such idea. This brief playlet brings us an estranged couple with one still pinning while the other has moved on. John wanted to continue the relationship while Phyllis knew it was doomed and packed it in.
Looking at the social mores of the 21st Century, John decides the only person who can help him get over his love IS HIS LOVE. So he engages (pardon the pun) Phyllis in a plan to help him move on FROM Phyllis.
The play – in plot and motivation – starts in the middle. In this way, it is naturalistic and not realistic. We get an episodic feel. This is how things operate now with a “get to the point” attitude. While this enabled us to immediately join the energy of the characters, it meant the audience must fill in blanks quickly and on their own. Playwright Jewett would be advised to find a few more pockets of exposition to let us follow more accurately but – when one looks at television series like Breaking Bad and Dear White People, you see that working poly-chronically is a most alluring feature.
Jewett’s clever touch comes when the obvious reason for the meeting (thus the play) is to have John win Phyllis back but the reveal tells a different story. Once again, the playwright hands us a suspected conclusion, then a twist, and a new finale. Modern thinking at its best.
Audiences attending got to see this first draft or “scene-of-a-longer-play” and from this reviewer’s vantage point, the piece is well-worth elongating and fleshing further.