Finally, the world has been crying out for a musical based on Alanis Morissette’s 1995 hit album Jagged Little Pill. Have we not been saying this over brunch nearly every Sunday for the past 18 years? Who knows what it will actually be about. Here’s what I’m hoping it’s about. Two words: Uncle Joey.
As the curtain rises we are met with a sobbing woman draped in a blanket depicting the Canadian flag. She is clutching a hockey puck in one hand and a list of affordable doctors in the other. She is watching Full House. Suddenly we hear a harmonica. The woman stands up and tosses the blanket to the floor. Her sweater is on backwards AND inside out.
The woman, we’ll call her Alanis, grabs a phone and begins texting furiously. The words scroll across a large screen behind her: Why are you so petrified of silence? Here can you handle this (doesn’t text for a full minute which, in the world of texting, is a very long time)…Did you think about your bills, your ex, your deadlines, or when you think you’re gonna die? Or did you long for the next distraction?
As the song trails off her friend Ryan Gosling dramatically walks on stage. He pleads with her to put the phone down, reminding her this guy wasn’t worth it. For God’s sake he, we’ll call him Dave Coulier, cheated on her. She should be angry! Ryan grabs Alanis’ shoulders and shakes her while screaming “YOU KNOW BETTER…WELL YOU OUGHTA KNOW!” He hands her a pencil (they love pencils in Canada) telling her to write Dave a letter she’ll never send and then tuck it away somewhere safe.
As she writes we see the following scenes unfold, stage right…an older version of Alanis going down on Dave Coulier in a theater. This woman has his baby somehow from a blow job. Around young Alanis are post-it notes with the words: Reminder: You left a mess when you went away.
Ryan Gosling hugs Alanis and leaves. She takes out an old photo album, flipping through family photos…
It becomes clear that the demise of Alanis’ relationship can be blamed entirely on her parents and their incessant need for perfection at all times. Of course no man could ever measure up. No one will ever be good enough!
Determined to get out of this funk she grabs a sheet of paper. Behind her on the screen we see she is making a list of personal pros and cons.
Pros: Happy, Kind, Healthy, Grounded, Sane, Hopeful, Gives High Fives, Sober, Young, Working, Caring, Here, Sorry, Flicks Cigarettes, Gives Peace Signs, Focused, Wise, Friendly, Laughs, Brave, Pretty, Plays Piano, Am Fine Fine Fine, Can Hail Taxi Cabs
Cons: Broke, Poor, Short, High, Overwhelmed, Lost, Hand in Pocket, Drunk, Underpaid, Tired, Restless, Gone, Wrong, Hand in Pocket Again, Haven’t Got it All Figured Out Just Yet, Free, Green, Hard, Sad, Chickenshit, Sick, Hand in Pocket Again (note: take hand out of pocket sometimes)
Feeling like the bad far outweighs the good Alanis pours herself a drink, puts on her best going out/gettin’ laid outfit and exits the stage. When she returns she’s at a bar, clearly looking for an okay time.
Men in suits sit at the bar, nursing beers. Not one of them looks in her general direction but since Alanis is in a sort of displaced anger kind of mood she grabs each one, making irrational accusations mere inches from their faces.
Man 1: Hey you mispronounced my name (he hasn’t said anything). You kind of hurt my feelings (Lady we’ve never met). You see me as a sweet backloaded puppet and you’ve got meal ticket taste (He confusingly holds up his left hand, showing a wedding ring).
Man 2: You took me for a joke, you took me for a child. You took a long hard look at my ass and then played golf for a while (this gentleman is blind and visibly annoyed…he’s never played a game of golf in his life).
Man 3: Oh hello Mr. Man. You didn’t think I’d come back. You didn’t think I’d show up with my army (she is completely alone) and this ammunition on my back. (Alanis brandishes a gun…the bar panics).
Recognizing her the bartender calls her friends. Moments later The Barenaked Ladies enter the bar. They fold her up into a bear, okay bare, hug and put her into their tour van, not bus. Passing by a church Alanis demands they stop. She needs a different kind of saving right now.
A crack of thunder sounds as she collapses to her knees on the church steps. It starts raining because all things sad and God-related really should happen in the rain. A choir appears on the steps, bathed in light, totally dry because belief in a God doubles as an umbrella.
The church doors open and a priest comes down the stairs with an umbrella in his hand (guess Alanis’ beliefs just aren’t strong enough yet). “Father,” she gasps…”does it ever get better?”
“My child,” he responds, “You live. You learn.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci5j9yQ-528
When Alanis gets home she puts her keys on the side table and checks her answering machine (it is Canada after all). There is a frantic message from her friend Mary Jane. Knowing the best way to help yourself is to help others she gives her a ring. After a night of drinking and God chatting Alanis is feeling pretty knowledgable right about now. (The other side of the stage lights up, we see a young woman answer her landline)
Mary Jane is heartbroken. “That’s so ironic,” Alanis says into the phone, “so am I.”
“Uh no,” replies Mary Jane. “That’s just a coincidence. It isn’t irony.”
“Hey Mary Jane, I believe I know what irony is.”
“Alanis, everything you mentioned is just annoying, not ironic, but I don’t want to fight with you since we’re both feeling so shitty right now. Honestly I knew you and Dave weren’t meant to be, before he cheated on you. You were less of a girlfriend to him and more of a parent, bank, caregiver, doctor…”
“Mary Jane…come on…”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H0BP_UPZG4
Alanis hangs up the phone and goes into her bedroom, going over her relationship in her head. Was it filled with as many contradictions as Mary Jane claimed? Could she have been so blind?
Suddenly there is a knock on the front door. It’s Ryan Gosling. “I just wanted to check on you, and I have something to tell you…I love you. I’m in love with you. And I have these abs in case you’ve never seen any of my movies,” he said…grinning that damn Gosling grin.
And out of nowhere, in that sneaky, tricky, kind of bullshit way love can be…
The curtain lowers to the ground as they embrace in a perfectly civil, Canadian way. Okay it’s really more of a handshake.