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I Want to Make a Starlight Express Joke So Bad, But Can’t Think of One: The Jammer at Atlantic Theater


You guys, there’s a play about roller derby. We saw it last week at the Atlantic Theater Company and it was pretty great. Herewith, please find a short list of stuff that kind of rocked our socks about The Jammer…

1. Cute boy.
Hey Patch Darragh, who plays lead guy Jack Lovington, where have you been all our lives? You’re super cute. Also, your name is Patch. Do you sing? Would you like to be in a musical?

2. Roller derby.
Roller derby is a sport about hitting people in the face while on roller skates. There should be ten plays about this and four musicals. Two of them should be rock operas* and at least one should be through-sung and at least one should star Johnny Gallagher. You don’t see people on actual roller skates in The Jammer, but it doesn’t matter. This is theater. The theater of roller derby.

3. Vintage styling.
This is a play about a dude, and the lead female character is off her rocker, so you won’t be continuously swooning over a blooming bouquet of pretty vintage frocks or anything. You’ll have to wait for Far From Heaven for that. But we will always see the charm in primary color overload, checked shirts, and characters named Beth Nutterman and Lenny Ringle.

4. Foul-mouthed leading lady.
Some of the things that come out of derby queen Lindy Batello’s mouth even made us blush. Not an easy thing to do. Played with over-the-top, just-released-from-Bellevue gusto by Jeanine Serrallis, the character is both sweet and batshit. Our favorite combination.

5. Local charm.
The show is largely set in and around New York City and concerns working class characters who kind of sound like Jack Kelly twenty years after the strike after he moved to the burbs and had a couple of kids. It’s cute. And funny.

6. Brevity.
Hey, The Jammer. Thanks for not making me sit through a three-hour play that could have only been 90 minutes long without an intermission. Thanks for making this play actually 90 minutes long without an intermission. It left us more time to hang out after and talk about the play.

7. Commitment to ideas bigger than just roller derby and cute boys.
It’s not ultra-complicated stuff, but The Jammer is about a guy who yearns to see the world and does so by joining a roller derby team. Which frankly sounds like a great idea and we might try it. (There are seven local roller derby teams and organizations listed in the program. Do not test us.) But really it’s about the loss of American innocence in the 1950s. But really really, it’s just a silly, charming little comedy about some swell characters who you want to hug all at the same time. Well, in the case of Jack, we maybe also want to make out a little bit…

*Starlight Express is not a rock opera and is not about roller derby. But it is awesome.

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