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Jake’s Gift a true gift to the audience


Teresa Mallam  |  PRINCE GEORGE FREE PRESS  | 12 NOVEMBER 2009



Julia Mackey is an actor of extraordinary talent. Following her beautifully poignant performance which notably fell on Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, the crowd at Artspace showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.

Mackey reacted with an emotional thank you to audience members – in particular to any veterans in attendance.


In Jake’s Gift, Mackey plays three characters who span three generations: precocious “Petite” Isabelle, her worldly wise Grandmama and a cantakerous old Second World War veteran named Jake. The set for Jake’s Gift is intentionally stark with few props and a black curtain backdrop. Only occasional taped music and of course the actor’s dialogue breaks the dramatic silence on stage.


This is where the magic comes in. Mackey has her own special gift. She deftly draws the audience into her tightly woven story of love, laughter and loss with her skillful use of voice, body language and character development. It’s an amazing play to watch unfold.


Jake’s Gift is set on Juno Beach in Normandy during the 60th anniversary of D-Day ceremonies. It is here that Jake meets 10-year-old Isabelle from the nearby village. She teaches him valuable lessons of life and in turn receives a treasured gift from him, much later on. Jake makes good on a promise to visit the grave of his lost brother Chester after finding courage from his talks with the young girl.


There are many bits of Canadiana in the play – not just about the bravery and sacrifice of Canadian soldiers on Juno Beach who liberated the small town in France – but references to a Burlington, Ontario tour band who plays for D-Day celebrations, Canadian school children who send maple leaves with their teacher to be laid at the graves of fallen soldiers and other historically accurate details that make you proud to be a Canadian.


Mackey has been touring this play for over two years (she performed it at benefit concert at PG Playhouse in Nov. 2007 for the McCully family whose son Matthew was killed in Afghanistan) and she appears totally at ease in the “skin” of three diverse characters. She truly makes you believe that there are three different people on stage, not one. It was Pulse guy Shawn Petriw who first told me this remarkable play was coming to Prince George and I am so glad he did. Everyone should see it. The comedy drama was inspired by Mackey’s own visit to Normandy, France for the 60th anniversary of D-Day ceremonies.



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