Mr. & Mrs. Jones, subtitled Sideshows and Psychics, sets to draw you back to colonial New Zealand and tell you the story of New Zealand’s most infamous showbiz couple. Should you see it?
Mr. & Mrs. Jones is a bit of old school magic and mentalism wrapped up in some modern historical storytelling and a play about New Zealand’s most infamous showbiz couple from the colonial days – and how they disappeared without a trace. The show begins with some old staples of the carny and magic trade, including the ball and cup routine (“… you put the balls in your hand. Not the first time you’ve done so, is it?”) to set the stage of the 1890s duo. We’re introduced to how the two met, how they fell in love, and how they disappeared, through scene vignettes, modern commentary on the past, and live demonstrations that include mentalism and telepathy. “Mr. Jones” himself points out that you’ve all seen Criss Angel and the new breed of rock star magicians, but a hundred and twenty years ago, in younger and more superstitious times, these tricks blew people’s minds. And even still, the tricks are really cool, fun, and awe inspiring. And of course, everything you’re seeing is sleight of hand, misdirection, and distraction leading up to the climax – a trick that hypnotized an entire nation. David Ladderman and Lizzie Tollemache, Mr. & Mrs. Jones respectively are both themselves from New Zealand and so bring an authentic charm to the show. Dressed in their wonderfully period costumes, and appropriately staged in the Courtroom and Arts Court, it’s easy to get lost in the days and magic of yore. Will you be fooled?
Mr. & Mrs. Jones is an absolute and pure delight. It’s engaging, edge-of-your-seat, breathtaking fun. Following the tale of these two con artists is just a riot, and watching the two break between performing as Mr. & Mrs. Jones while teaching about the history of Mr. & Mrs. Jones at the same time was not only informative and interesting but provided the context we needed to enjoy what was happening in the show portion of this Fringe show. The mentalism and psychic phenomena, coupled with on stage hypnosis provided the perfect showmanship to keep us all entertained and waiting with baited breath to see what happens next. Some of the mentalism is obviously based on word cues set up between the two, but it still works and comes across brilliantly. Mr. & Mrs. Jones is Fringe perfection. When you are coming out to see a show at Fringe this is the exact show you want to see. It will be one you remember and talk about years down the road and will be definitely one that you wouldn’t hesitate to see for a second or third time.
Based on the strong recommendations of Allan and Matthew, I chose Mr. and Mrs. Jones as one my ‘Last Day of Fringe Wildcards’ and was not disappointed. The storytelling was strong as I felt completely transported back in time to the 1800s. I could totally understand how audiences of yore would be swept away by the spectacle of this charming couple and their mesmerizing magic. Their costumes, as Allan points out, were wonderful and the whole play was very well-staged. The climax of their show was one of my favorite moments of the Fringe (as was the weird hypnosis bit), and although my mind wasn’t exactly blown by what mysticism they had to offer, I loved the historical flair of the show and the chemistry of the performers. As Matthew said, the show was informative, interesting, and delightful – even if I didn’t love it quite as much as he did.
What did you think of Mr. and Mrs. Jones? Were you amazed and mystified? Join the discussion and tell me what you thought in the comments below. For more information on Mr. and Mrs. Jones, including how to buy advance tickets, visit their show page on OttawaFringe.com: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/mr-mrs-jones/