‘Jailbait’ Paints a Frank Portrait of Adolescence

Jailbait

Like its provocative title, Boston College Theatre’s latest production, Jailbait, refuses to spare any of the gritty details of growing up. Revolving around two underage girls’ misadventures at a Boston nightclub, the play’s broad spectrum of emotions is brought to life by the cast. From the petty, subtle competition that accompanies female friendships to the pain of breakups and the joy of newfound love, the stage is the site of equal parts innocence and debauchery.

This strange contradiction is present from the very beginning. The play opens with high school friends Claire (Isabelle Wallkey, MCAS ’21) and Emmy (Ally Lardner, MCAS ’21) hanging out in Claire’s bedroom. The set is a flawless imitation of any typical teenage girl’s room, with sports trophies displayed, photos of friends plastered on the walls, and a childish color scheme. But the innocent setting makes the scene even more striking: The girls wait for Claire’s mother to leave for a date before getting their hands on a bottle of wine and dressing up for a night at a grimy club and dates with two much older men. Both actresses excel at mimicking the emotions of adolescence. Wallkey, as Claire, is the picture of naivety and relatable anxiety, while Lardner’s portrayal of Emmy displays a familiar overconfidence and queen bee malice mixed with increasing glimpses of vulnerability as the night progresses.



The girls’ counterparts exhibit mirror personalities. While Robert (Miki Peiffer, MCAS ’19) is lovelorn, sloppy and brooding, his swaggering buddy from high school Mark (Peter Dunn, MCAS ’19) presents a false veneer of machismo. Both prove to be in over their heads as the true identity of the girls is revealed, and they must face their mistakes, as well as reckon with the choices they’ve made throughout their lives.

The collision of these forces, naive youth with jaded adulthood, doesn’t play out as one might expect. Claire and Robert are pushed together somewhat unwillingly, but the chemistry that forms between them is a heart-rending, disturbing development. After all, she’s a 15-year-old girl. He’s a full-grown man. Yet, as they grow comfortable in the dark, dingy club, talking together like old friends, the audience can’t help softening, wondering if maybe this doesn’t have to end badly. But the loss of innocence is always painful, and what comes next is both entirely expected and utterly shocking.

Jailbait tells the tale of what happens over one fateful night, condensing what everyone experiences throughout their adolescence years into this timeframe. Friendship, sexuality, innocence, and guilt are all treated frankly and without compromise. The two men are nowhere near being the villains of the story, just as the girls are not without fault. What occurs among them is not the corruption of innocence, but a metaphor for the inevitable transition that must occur between childhood and adulthood. Whether we like it or not, we all have to grow up someday.

Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor