This was my second time seeing Chezzie’s Chance earlier tonight. I so enjoyed this theatrical piece of Jazz last May and really looked forward to seeing it tonight. Last year it was just too close to my heart (my youngest son was preparing to leave the homestead just a few weeks after this).
I had spoken with the writer Dave Duggan prior to the festival last year. He had explained to me that his love of Jazz and his love of Theater were what helped bring this play into being. And when he found his story inspiration in the literary lines of critic Terry Eagleton he was well underway to creating this fabulous piece. Dave had told me that the end result had a story which implied the ability to be free and yet not be lonely. Something which is very closely tied to family. And so the storyline of mother and son, with the son’s impending departure from home, ensued.
The domestic story unfolds at a Jazz Club. Mother and Son sip wine and talk, whilst the Jazz band played. And of course, we the audience are watching it all. It feels like something special even before it begins.
The Millennium Studio at Millennium Forum was the perfect setting for this production yet again. With the velvet curtained windows, it has that ambiance one expects from a Jazz Club. The dark surrounds all just work.
The production opened with music from a swinging jazz trio and at regular intervals throughout the domestic discussion, the Jazz show continued. The band played for the mother and son, and yet we were watching the show. Neither the domestic scene or the Jazz music cut across the other. It just works so well.
Featuring the music of Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billy Eckstine, Freddie Hubbard, Fannie Johnston and more, the play swings to the rhythm of that moment in life when the young leave the nest.
Orla Mullan and Conor O’Kane have this story line to a tee. Excelling in her role as mother, Orla sang her heart out, and yet portrayed the anguish all mothers experience when that child is leaving the abode. Conor likewise played his role in convincing his mother that a life of ‘Jazz’ was right for him, and was not backing down from his dream. The dialogue was spectacular throughout. It was funny and yet so poignant. I found it so compelling second time around and intuitive of Duggan to incorporate such a serious and universal theme, and yet make it funny.
Putting jizz into your jazz has a whole new meaning. And of course our new saying will surely be, ‘It’s just Jazz Ma.’
Last year I cried quite a few tears throughout the show. My heart was tearing apart and yet I was such a proud mother. The baby was leaving home to pursue his dream (as Chezzie is preparing to do) and over the past year I have genuinely achieved many personal goals and dreams. Chezzie’s Ma will do likewise.
But the line that really stood out for me tonight was Chezzie ‘Get out of my way Ma.’ He may have said it in harsh tones, but it needed to be said. As a mother I can only imagine how hard it might be to hear such said to you. But as a mother (or father) we must step aside and let our kids fly. We may not always like the direction they are flying but we must let them fly. The quote, ‘What if I fall. Oh my darling, but what if you fly?’ was there at the back of my mind. This universal theme of letting our children pursue their dream is there at the heart of this play. As is the Jazz. That jizz in your jazz!
Dave Duggan has penned a very special piece in Chezzie’s Chance. This is definitely not the last time I will see this Jazz play. I plan on returning to this again and again.
Chezzie’s Chance is on tomorrow Saturday, and again on Sunday at Millennium Forum. Do go along and see this very special piece of Jazz theatre. You really won’t be disappointed.