So, what’s your next move when you feel that you are in the prime of your life with a great career that’s paused by a global pandemic? This is the predicament that a displaced artist finds herself in with the livestream Cincy Fringe, The Prime of Miss Jen Joplin.
Joplin’s 60-minute show takes viewers on a journey of self-discovery in the face of the unknown as a public health crisis spreads, threatening the safety of many. At the same time Jen, with few employment options, grapples with taking a job with a company (which shall not be named to avoid a lawsuit) that has its own publicly known issues with labor yet becomes the source of all goods as consumers shift to online purchasing to fulfill needs and wants. She knows that she will one day return to pre-pandemic life, but for now she needs to show some respect for a job that she is lucky to have.
Jen’s witty disposition keeps the one-woman show moving at a steady pace as she tries to make the best of the situation. The best parts of the show are when she uses her natural creative talent with songs that not only keep her sanity, but also provide entertainment while sorting a multitude of boxes around the warehouse to ship to customers. Let’s face it, over the past 15 months, we’ve all come up with new and creative ways to remain balanced as we navigated the “new normal” — continuous COVID-19 testing, work from home and virtual school. The musical selections sprinkled throughout the show provide levity that demonstrates how art can imitate life in the best way.
Our Lady of Badassery Productions deserves kudos for the simple yet intricately designed set full of boxes of all shapes and sizes with various labels that remind the workers to handle them with care. The uncanny visual connection brings to light the reality of the perilous situation that many across the globe have faced since March 2020. Like the boxes, the world and humans are fragile with heaviness. As the show progresses, Joplin weaves in the impact that COVID-19 has had on her mental health. In doing so, she finds her voice to speak her truth on how she is feeling, which ultimately serves as a voice for many.
The Prime of Miss Joplin reminds viewers that sometimes you must take life as it comes to you. There will be great days, and there will be other days when you just have to stop trying to catch the box if it drops. COVID-19 was the box that dropped for many who were in the prime of their life plans on the dawn of a new decade. As we continue to grapple with its spilled contents, we enjoy a renewed outlook on the meaning of life, meeting new people and creating new experiences.
The Cincinnati Fringe Festival takes place June 4-19. For more information, show descriptions, a schedule and tickets, visit cincyfringe.com.