Writer and actor Alaine Beek has turned her personal experience with breast cancer into an insightful and sometimes humorous play.
Jack and Millie tells of Millie, a 50 something professional at the peak of her career. On being diagnosed with breast cancer, Millie creates an imaginary friend Jack, who is with her every step of the way for better and for worse.
Those steps include dealing with the medical profession, the impact of the diagnosis and the fear of death. He’s also there for the many challenges involved in the diagnoses such as telling loved ones, coping with personal relationships and handling work matters.
In explaining how she stayed positive during her diagnosis and treatment Beek explains: “It was like I had to get used to a weird friend constantly on my shoulder.”
Realising this experience was the basis of a story, Beek wrote Jack and Millie. Essence Productions, an independent theatre company she founded in 2003, is presenting the play.
According to Beek the play isn’t a dark tale. “It’s about shared experiences when we are faced with a life-threatening disease,” she explains.
Those experiences sometimes include humorous situations, which the cast of three – Beek, Phil Cameron-Smith and Ross Daniels – cleverly illustrate on stage.
Daniels leads the way in providing the play’s funniest moments. He plays numerous characters including Millie’s Mum and possible love interest Declan. Daniels’ facial expressions and physical movements ensure the personality of each character is clearly defined.
Given it’s her story, Beek is totally believable as Millie while Cameron-Smith gives a strong performance as Jack.
While the general feel of Jack and Millie is upbeat, thanks to Beek’s experience, it also provides an insight into the possible thoughts and feelings of those dealing with breast cancer.
*Photo credit: Parenthesy.
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