A modern day Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, Jordan tells of a mother driven to the ultimate act to avoid having her child taken away from her. What unfolds is the tragedy of Shirley Jones and her baby Jordan as they await the decision of the Court; prison or freedom.
Jordan is an unflinching and extraordinary account of a mother driven to the brink through the machinations of her abusive partner. It was created as the result of a chance meeting between writer Anna Reynolds, and the subject of Jordan, Shirley Jones. This was, however, whilst both were in prison for murder; Reynolds for murdering her mother, Jones for murdering her child. Both were released; presented here is Jones’ story.
Such circumstances obviously mean that the story is going to be harrowing and challenging. However, it cannot prepare you for how thought-provoking and intense Jordan is. Reynolds and co-writer Moira Buffini’s script is raw; emotional; disturbing and paranoid. The writing is stylish with observations and asides thrown out the audience almost as incidental, yet haunting, detail. For instance, Shirley’s father, suffering from lung cancer, is said to have hands “stained yellow with the blood of his killer”, such evocative detail embellishes the script as circumstances hurtle to their conclusion.
Jordan is defined stylistically by its dramatic tonal shifts. Interspersed with a fairy tale, Jordan swings from very dark to a much lighter Rumpelstiltskin tone demanding the audience to keep up. These dramatic shifts in tone I found jarring, such is their sudden appearance; however, this suddenness does not let you dwell on the dark content of the story.
Sian Weedon delivers an incredibly powerful and deep monologue as Shirley. Creating a character wildly out of her depth, and so scarily raw, Weedon makes her sympathetic and sure in her convictions. Physically, she throws herself across the stage. Each punch landed by her abusive partner is matched by Weedon’s dramatisation of the physicality and brutality of this final confrontation. She also actively seeks out individual members of the audience, her eyes burning the story onto you. By contrast, her eye contact is not so vivid as Shirley opens up about her past and appears not to be playing to the jury in court, and Weedon becomes more vulnerable in a truly evocative performance.
Director Gordon Hamlin creates a stark, bare, but fast-paced atmosphere. Punctuated by lighting that heightens or darkens the mood, attention is solely focused on Weedon and her captivating story. Intense, claustrophobic, and unpredictable, Jordan is not easily forgotten. The tagline for Jordan claims that the story is “unlikely to leave you unmoved”. Judging by the tears streaming down the faces of those in the room, how true this is.
The Fiction Stroker gives Jordan four strokes out of five:
For further tour dates for Jordan, and future productions, head over to the Stickleback Productions website.