‘Jess and Joe Forever’ is set in Norfolk where we’re acquainted with Joe, who is naturally born and bred in Norfolk himself is a rather reserved individual who appears to be lacking in friendships with people who are of the same age. He soon comes into contact with, Jess who frequently spends her summer holidays in Norfolk with her au pair, in addition to this, she has a somewhat lack of confidence as she us quite chubby as her summer dresses do not fit her too well. Their initial meeting occurs when both Jess and Joe are nine years old where she sleuths Joe who is skinny dipping in incredibly tight Speedos and when she is caught by Joe, we can see that Joe does not have an abundant amount of body issues. However, as Jess keeps visiting Norfolk annually, the friendship between Jess and Joe flourishes as both have to deal with the challenges of growing up; especially their teenage years where both are experiencing puberty and the other life difficulties. Over the course of the performance, Joe who at first was exceedingly sceptical of Jess in the first place begins to become more comfortable with being in Jess’ presence and some lovely moments with the two friends. Joe seems to think that everything happens for a reason and even when he discusses his own mum’s funeral, he appears to be somewhat emotionless and declares that his mum’s death was just meant to happen. Throughout the performance, we learn a lot more about Jess and Joe as the two really like one another and they have a real understanding of each other’s stories and what is most fascinating is that in a number of scenes that a promising romance could be on the cards and that the proxemics of the two of them may be rather close but in actual fact they are miles apart. At the finale, in what could possibly be one of the biggest shocks in a play that the real reason that Joe has a mammoth amount of body issues that he reveals that he is transgender and even though Jess is perplexed, she doesn’t reject him and the two carry on with their relationship development. Cooper’s narrative is so enchanting as she has taken us on a journey that is crammed full of twists and turns all the way through which makes us the audience desiring what is about to occur, moreover, I really admired how she has crafted a charming relationship of Jess and Joe.
One found the performances by the company of, ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ be fascinating as both characters go through a whole range of emotions that keeps you wanting more which in turn the movements and the voice delivery were rather polished in depth. Nicola Coughlan is sublime as, Jess; mainly how we see that in the shows duration we come to see that she wants to make Joe become increasingly more confident and this is so decent for someone to do despite the fact she has issues too and this shows that she likes to help others first before herself. Rhys Isaac-Jones is outstanding as the shy and quiet boy, Joe; specifically how with the way in which he tries to cover up his body shows that there is more about his bashfulness and when it is revealed why he is body conscious then we can see how people within the transgender community still today have stigmas attached and this should not occur.
Derek Bond’s direction is out of this world as he has brought Cooper’s plot to such brilliance as we are not only witnessing the story of friendships and the development of the relationship, we are given a perspective of gender and how the transgender community still have a long way to go before it is accepted in the world and the understanding of it, plus the characterisations were directed with such accomplishment. James Perkins’ design is grand too as we are definitely transported to the Norfolk landscape and the set really works in conjunction with the sound equipment which is quite tricky to do but this is rather fruitful here and the actual costumes work within the personalities of the characters that are Jess and Joe. Overall, the experience of, ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ was a worthwhile visit to a space I have really come to like and the gripping tale of twists and turns reminds me of an episode of ‘Big Brother’ were twists and turns are a part of the norm.