Theater archives

Jack’s Precious Moment Has a Beheading, But Needs Better Execution


A family gets thrown into tumult in Samuel D. Hunter’s impressively audacious, but never truly successful Jack’s Precious Moment: Favorite son Jack has been beheaded in Iraq and a video of the execution has been disseminated over the Internet. It’s a provocative backstory for a play that not only examines the emotional toll these events have on his loved ones, but also satirizes overzealous patriotism and the hypocrisy of this born-again Christian clan.

Unfortunately, the ambitious play founders. Theatergoers can certainly appreciate the piece’s various elements, such as the questions of faith that have arisen for Jack’s twin brother, Bib (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and Bib’s uncertainty about his sexuality once he meets a randy carnie (Lucas Papaelias). Equally intriguing is the absurdist plan that Jack’s widow, Karen (Karen Walsh), hatches to memorialize him: The onetime druggie who has rediscovered her passion for airplane glue hopes to have Jack commemorated as one of those unbearably cute Precious Moments figurines. But these amusing—and thoughtful—strands never coalesce into meaningful or moving theater in director Kip Fagan’s ungainly production, and by the time the play reaches its contrived, sentimental ending, audiences might regret the precious moments they’ve spent with the show.