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Theater Review: Jack Craddock Is Having a Party

Andy Schirrmeister and Eric Patrick Harper in Jack Craddock Is Having a Party. Photo by Jordan Geiger.

Last weekend, I saw three plays with a man’s name in the title: The Book of Will, Marty and the Hands That Could and Jack Craddock Is Having a Party. That coincidence prompted me to examine the differences between the title men.

The Will in question is William Shakespeare, beloved by the surviving members of his King’s Men acting company determined to guarantee his legacy. Marty is a 25-year-old from Philly freshly out of prison and hoping to develop his own legacy, but more likely to continue the cycle of incarceration. And the legacy of Jack Craddock, just slightly older than Marty, is complicated relationships with friends he has abandoned to varying degrees.

While Will is defined by his work and Marty by the boulder he must push up the hill of life, Craddock is unknowable because he remains unseen. As his former friends and lovers from the University of Texas describe their dealings with him, they reveal more about themselves than him.

Jack Craddock Is Having a Party unfolds over a single night. It opens with two roommates in an Austin apartment, Mary Catherine (Sally Hughes) and Alex (Morgan Thompson). They’re dissing a third roommate, Emily Ann, known as EA, who has recently moved out, leaving bloody handprints on the walls. But this isn’t a horror show, it’s the sound and fury of twenty-somethings being dragged out of a post-college haze and toward adulthood.

Sally Hughes and Morgan Thompson in Jack Craddock is Having a Party. Photo by Jordan Geiger.

The women discuss EA’s microdosing and “ego death on the reg.” They try on different identities. Despite being in the process of moving out, they focus more on the past than the future.

A former frat boy who still has a hold over these alumni hearts, Jack, is returning to Austin after a stint in Thailand. He’s throwing a party that night before moving yet again. He’s invited MC but not Alex, who is left to wonder why she’s not good enough. When their friend and MC’s former fiancé Trip (Eric Patrick Harper) arrives, he too must confront the rejection of being left off of Jack’s guest list. Jack’s approval means a lot to all of them, for reasons increasingly sketchy.

The trio, together since college, is about to go off in their own directions and it’s wrenching—but unquestionably time. MC has given up on acting after being called “a gifted mimic” and is doing social media for a restaurant group. Her wedding to Trip canceled, she packs books for much of the play. Alex shares her New Year’s resolution: to develop  sprezzatura, a studied nonchalance. She has a way to go.

Trip, struggling to find his way, ruminates, “Maybe we don’t all have to have big lives.” He leaves, returning with a young man (Andy Schirrmeister) who came for a drug deal but stays for the drama. Alex gets off the best line of the play to him: “You paint your nails and suddenly you’re a protected class?”

Rachel McBath directed Jack Craddock Is Having a Party, by first-time playwright Harrison Harvey. The show cleverly captures a particular kind of coming of age. It’s not like Will’s or Marty’s, with its small issues blown up into defining moments. For this group, breaking out of extended childhoods is as significant as it gets.


Jack Craddock Is Having a Party runs through May 21 at the Moving Arts Theatre, 3191 Casitas Ave. in Atwater Village. Tickets to the final performances—Saturday and Sunday at 8:00pm and Sunday at 2:00pm—are available here for $25. There is plenty of onsite parking.

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Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Theatre West.

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