Everybody has a story to tell. Some stories are sad, some are touching; Some stories are sweet, and some are funny. Some stories, like Jenn Hayward’s, are all of the above. Her 75-minute one-woman show delves deep into her own past to explore sexuality, mental health, social justice, religion, and self-acceptance.
Should you see it?
Each of us has our cross to bear, and it takes a courageous person to put that on display for complete strangers. In Jesus Even Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist, Jenn Hayward recounts her struggles with self-harm, infertility, borderline personality disorder, and many other challenges in an honest, open way that’s both moving and charming. She treats these subjects with the respect and gravitas they deserve without becoming preachy or overly sentimental. That in itself is no small feat and deserves applause.
The biggest difficulty with this show, however, is that it feels more like therapy than theatre. Hayward’s emotional outpourings come at the request of a God-like character who interrupts her stand-up comedy set seemingly at random. There are thus two distinct flavours to this show and the problem is that they don’t interact well. The comedy feels like it was inserted into the play just to give the audience a break from the weight of its subject matter. Nothing feels like an integrated whole.
Hayward also becomes very introspective when she is telling this God-like figure about how her life turned out. She turns completely inwards, losing the quality that makes her engaging in other scenes, and appears to be talking through her problems more for her benefit than ours. I often felt more like a witness to someone’s self-psychoanalysis session than a theatre-goer.
Stand-up comedy is clearly where Hayward shines. Her energy and sense of humor are at their best when she is in the spotlight in front of the single microphone, cracking jokes and engaging the audience. Unfortunately, she loses this intensity completely when she transitions from her brass and confident stage personae to the tired woman wondering if there’s still a place for her in Jesus’ heart.
We’re also never clear on why Hayward cares so deeply about that question. She tackles a lot of issues very well throughout Jesus Even Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist but spirituality is not one of them. The “conversations with God” structure felt forced, and the God character himself fell flat. His awkward reading – complete with loud page turns – didn’t help. Hayward’s stories stand alone well, without needing to be crammed into the confines of theatrical convention or even an overarching theme.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to hear what you have to say. What did you think of the interruptions from God? Let me know in the comments below!