The tears welled up in my eyes, then spilled onto my cheeks. How was this occurring? I don’t cry. A minimum of not after I’m being manipulated to really feel a desired emotion. Not at unhappy moments in motion pictures. Not at pathetic scenes on the sidewalk. Definitely not at ubiquitous heartbreak songs from the summer time earlier than my freshman yr of school. However now I used to be having a cathartic second in a darkish theater, surrounded by lots of of strangers sitting in uncomfortable velvet seats who had been coming tearfully unhinged. And maybe strangest of all: It was occurring to a poignant association of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.”
Throughout the previous 24 years, Alanis’ hair-thrashing sincerity has devolved right into a signifier of performative angst, the track itself changing into a punchline wailed and warped by numerous karaoke wannabes (see Noah Galvin’s tongue-contorting model in Booksmart). The lyrics have been endlessly parsed and analyzed, attributed (although by no means formally linked) to Morissette’s breakup with Dave “Full Home” Coulier. However the track takes on new which means in Jagged Little Capsule — the present stage musical that reimagines Morissette’s landmark 1995 album, with new preparations by Tom Kitt, a guide by Hollywood screenwriter Diablo Cody and professional path by Diane Paulus (Pippin).
You’re conscious “You Oughta Know” is coming, after all. However when it lastly emerges within the second act, sung by a younger lesbian named Jo (a magnetically proficient Lauren Patten) who’s been jilted by her finest buddy, the track is remodeled into a robust 21st-century queer anthem. Heartbroken, she walks on to the naked stage and begins to sing the all-too-familiar traces: “I would like you to know, that I’m glad for you/I want nothing however one of the best for you each.” It begins low and guttural, that naughty smirk of a lyric — “Is he perverted like me?/Would he go down on you in a theater?” — now re-gendered and tweaked right into a bottomless pit of unrequited anguish that any misunderstood queer child understands instinctually. Till very lately, LGBTQ youth by no means had pop songs that spoke to their emotions; we borrowed from straight individuals’s tales. Now, Alanis Morissette’s pop hit is a splendidly sorrowful track of want and longing that I’d place alongside Enjoyable Residence’s “Ring of Keys.”
I’m spending a lot time on this specific scene as a result of it’s not simply the climax of the present; it’s the explanation I need to see it time and again, regardless of Cody’s typically clunky guide, a mish-mash of “woke” clichés and advantage signaling. We’ve a Connecticut household with engaging dad and mom passive-aggressively coping with middle-aged marital discord. Their two youngsters — one an ideal son about to move to Harvard, the opposite an adopted black daughter who desires to avoid wasting the world — are struggling their very own privileged malaise. One of many few story parts that transcends the bigger plot points is when Bella (Kathryn Gallagher), whose character was raped at a celebration and been informed to close up or endure penalties, sings “Predator,” one of many two new songs that Morissette wrote for the present.
As a result of, after all, it’s Morissette’s music that saves the day. After the floodgates open with “You Oughta Know,” the star of the present, MJ (a surprising Elizabeth Stanley), takes over, writhing on her couch within the grips of an opioid overdose, singing the Grammy-winning “Uninvited,” with a doppelgänger dancer-demon mimicking her agony. “Hand in My Pocket” brings a smile. “Head Over Toes” is lovely. “Ironic” will get huge laughs as a result of it’s set amid a high-school creative-writing workshop and invokes all of the criticisms which have been launched on the track’s quirky lyrics: It’s not ironic, y’all! And the chic motion by Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (who additionally choreographed sequences in Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Apeshit” video) remembers the spastic, emotive movement you’d acknowledge from a Sia music video.
Positive, the manufacturing wears its earnestness on its sleeve. However it does it so actually and overtly that I forgive it. It’s like a spoiled teenager you need to throttle for being so self-involved and whiny however can’t fairly reject due to its enthusiastic magnificence and unspoiled ardour. As its title has at all times so annoyingly prompt, Jagged Little Capsule is that important bitter drugs that — regardless of our jaded impulses — should be swallowed and loved so we will be cured.