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The Intelligent Design Of Jenny Chow

12 October 2015 | 3:44 pm | Stephanie Liew

"Her biggest hurdle? She's got severe OCD and is agoraphobic."

From Rolin Jones (playwright and writer-producer of shows such as Friday Night Lights, Weeds and Boardwalk Empire) comes this funny, sharp and touching tale. Jennifer Marcus, an adopted modern-day genius, goes in search of her birth mother, who lives in China. Her biggest hurdle? She's got severe OCD and is agoraphobic. So she designs and builds a robot to act as her surrogate in the outside world, all the while trying to deal with a mother who just wants her child to start living a normal adult life. All sorts of explorations about identity, family, anxiety disorders, aspirations, and what human traits are valued in society ensue.

Boutique Theatre did an admirable job of putting on the Australian premiere of this Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted Off-Broadway hit show. The entire small cast was stellar, each member excelling at bringing a spark to their respective roles; the hilarious Sam Lavery was just a delight as four different characters, while Roby Favretto brought an endearing, goofy charm as Jennifer's best (only?) friend, and Kim Ko was a convincing human-like robot. Lawrie Fildes' turn as Jennifer's well meaning, typical Dad, along with Angelique Malcolm as the stern, highly strung mother Adele, and Tegan Jones as Jennifer, made for a compelling family dynamic. A particularly tense scene between Jennifer and Adele was a highlight, the climactic outpour of all the suppressed emotions that had been building up until then.

Everything else in the production, from the subtle lighting and sound design to the cardboard set, fell neatly into place. The Intelligent Design Of Jenny Chow exemplifies the very best that Fringe has to offer.

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