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Jason John Whitehead: Letters From Mindy

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Julian Hall

It's ten years since Jason John Whitehead performed his first Edinburgh show, when he was part of an composite bill from agents Off The Kerb. In the intervening years this likeable Canadian has chalked up seven Fringe runs, each time changing his pitch and approach.

The notion of change is essentially what this show is supposed to be about. I say ‘supposed to be’ because Letters From Mindy is another Fringe show where the concept has too loosely been applied to the material around it and vice versa.

The premise is that Whitehead has been left to deal with the predictably messy aftermath of a five-year relationship coming to an end. His reaction follows the classic stages: shock, denial, bargaining and depression. The latter sees him in a foetal position on his couch for months and, therefore, with plenty of time to think about the show that would inevitably arise from it. But not enough time to get a director, it would seem.

The stages themselves and a series of the titular letters would seem to give the piece structure but the former isn't strictly or cleverly adhered to and the latter device is unevenly employed. The provenance of the letters is confusing and they fail to shed much light on the tensions between men and women.

As ever Whitehead, now clean-shaven, clean-living and looking more Buddy Holly than his usual rock chic, pulls off some good lines although his undulating delivery can often mean that his punchlines end on a downbeat note.

Whatever the quality in some passages of the show, too often Whitehead will wander down dead-ends particularly towards the messy climax, where he talks about the future of men's genitalia and uses a laboured take on the PC versus Mac debate to illustrate the capabilities of men and women respectively to pull up facts in argument.

This is definitely not a red letter day.

Review date: 5 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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