Here's a sampling of some of the reviews we’ve collected since launching Jake’s Gift.
edmonton fringe festival 2018
★★★★★ | EDMONTON JOURNAL | Dave Breakenridge
“Mackey brings all of her characters to life with full-bodied realism, and even when she is bouncing back and forth between Jake and Isabelle, you can truly feel the emotion of each of them.”
★★★★★ | EDMONTON VUE WEEKLY | Alexis Reid
“Her craft and skill for being able to seamlessly move from one character to the next is an art in itself.”
Theatre northwest, prince george, 2017
PRINCE GEORGE CITIZEN | Frank Peebles
“The art of theatre is built into Jake's Gift almost as an afterthought. It's a free bonus that the skill of acting is demonstrated like a clinic. Julia Mackey is the shape-shifter the ancients spoke of in legends. She becomes an old Canadian D-Day veteran, a young French girl, a grandmother, not just seamlessly but frequently. Mackey is both ventriloquist and puppet.
Likewise, Jake's Gift contains a writer's workshop for those attuned to plot construction and characterization. If a single word isn't needed to hold up some other part of the story, I don't know what it is.
Nothing is extraneous; nothing is gratuitous. Every cup of dirt grows something for the story.”
PRINCE GEORGE CITIZEN | Neil Godbout | Editor-in-Chief | September 20, 2017
“When Julia Mackey takes the stage tonight, she will transform the world for the 908th time.
Not just her world but the world of everyone in her audience.
Her split-second transformations, from curmudgeonly veteran to 10-year-old girl to French grandmother to Canadian school teacher, are a master class in acting, the script's message is deep and powerful but best of all, Jake's Gift is a trumpet call about why the arts truly matter and always will.”
great canadian theatre company, ottawa, november 2015
OTTAWA CITIZEN | Patrick Langston
“In the hands of a lesser artist, such a tale could be twee and trite. In the hands of playwright/actor Julia Mackey, it’s rich, true and deeply moving, a solo show that runs just 65 minutes but leaves you replete, wanting neither more nor less of the gift you’ve been handed.”
lunchbox theatre, calgary, fall 2011
★★★★★ | CALGARY SUN | Lois Hobson
“Jake’s Gift - which Mackey conceived, wrote and performs – is theatre in its purest form. It is an instant love affair between performer and audience. This is a jewel of a show you simply can’t afford to miss.”
CALGARY HERALD | Bob Clark
“A story of perfect simplicity, flawlessly told.”
pacific theatre, vancouver, april 2011
VANCOUVER COURIER | Jo Ledingham
“Jake’s Gift may be short, but it’s long on historical and emotional impact, relevance and raw talent. The gift it gives is a light-hearted but never lightweight reminder that those who die in armed combat are never forgotten by those who loved them.”
manitoba theatre centre, winnipeg, november 2010
★★★★★ | UPTOWN | Marlo Campbell
“Respectful and honest, this is an authentic, moving portrait of one veteran and his ghosts. Bring Kleenex – you’ll need it.”
Artspace, prince george, november 2009
PRINCE GEORGE FREE PRESS | Teresa Mallam
“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.”
winnipeg fringe festival, july 2009
★★★★★ | CBC WINNIPEG | Katie Nicholson
“Jake’s Gift is the most theatrically pure show I have ever seen. Its star and playwright Julia Mackey delivers a stunning performance moving effortlessly between Isabelle’s youthful joie de vivre and Jake’s geriatric wryness.
So well fleshed out are her characters, so instantaneous are her transitions that it feels like an ensemble show. Through every one of Jake and Isabelle’s ratatatat interactions, Mackey inhabits each role voice, body and soul.
Jake’s Gift is an original, superbly constructed, tour de force tearjerker. See it: but be prepared for throat-lump inducing moments, tracks of fresh hot tears and racks of laughter.
It thoroughly deserves every standing ovation it gets.”
★★★★★ | WINNIPEG FREE PRESS | Carolin Vesely
“Julia Mackey has been trying to get into the Winnipeg Fringe for three years, but we’re the ones who won the lottery here, folks.
When a bare-bones, solo show can have virtually every member of the (packed) audience — and the performer — in tears by the end, you know it’s a gem.
The Vancouver playwright/actor’s lovingly crafted, beautifully acted and indubitably important comedy-drama about the losses and gains of war should be required viewing in every Canadian classroom.
Jake’s Gift tells the story of a Second World War veteran’s reluctant return to Normandy, France, for the 60th anniversary of D-Day. There, the crotchety octogenarian is befriended by Isabelle, a precocious 10-year-old from the local village who helps him face some long-ignored ghosts. Mackey’s ability to embody both characters, shifting seamlessly from arthritic codger to playful child in seconds, is nothing short of amazing.”
★★★★★ | WINNIPEG SUN | Meryl Kaye de Leon
“As a performer, Mackey is excellent – and her writing is even better. Her acting is superb; her transitions from character to character flows seamlessly and she makes you feel as if there were two people onstage.”
chautauqua festival, swift current, july 2009
THE SOUTHWEST BOOSTER | George Bowditch
“Jake’s Gift was a masterpiece and if you were not able to take in one of the performances at Chautauqua you you can only hope that this talented young lady brings her performance back to Swift Current.
The play is a true testament to the history of Canada and should be seen by all.
Julia Mackey... Thanks for your gift of Jake’s Gift.”
Victoria fringe festival, september 2008
★★★★★ | MONDAY MAGAZINE | John Threlfall
“It’s hard to say which is better—her script about a reluctant veteran’s return to Juno Beach or her twin performances as a 10-year-old girl and 80-year-old man, both of which, in 60 minutes, speak more to the heart about Canada’s role in WWII than would a six-hour NFB documentary.
Without a doubt, Jake’s Gift is one of the most moving and unashamedly heartfelt pieces of solo theatre that has graced a stage in a long time; put it up there with the likes of The Shape of a Girl and I, Claudia—it’s simply that good.”
edmonton fringe festival, august 2008
★★★★★ | VUE WEEKLY | Bryan Birtles
“Jake's Gift is a deeply moving play about a young French girl and a Canadian war veteran who visit Juno Beach for the 60th anniversary of D Day. They strike up an unlikely friendship and both learn about the losses and gains of war. A late addition to the festival, this play was not even in the program and yet deservedly had a nearly full house on opening night. Julia Mackey, who wrote and stars in the play, is an eminently watchable actor and her transformations between characters are stunning and nuanced, right down to the perfectly angled arthritic fingers of Jake. This is one to watch.”
★★★★★ | EDMONTON SUN | Colin Maclean
“Jake’s Gift. Mark it down. Get your tickets right away.”
saskatoon fringe festival, july 2008
★★★★★ | SASKATOON STAR PHOENIX | Shannon Boklaschuk
“If I could give this play six stars, I would. Jake’s Gift is one of the most heart-wrenching, emotional and beautifully acted pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen.”
wildside festival, Montreal, January 2008
THE MONTREAL GAZETTE | Pat Donnelly
“Former Montrealer, Julia Mackey, is making a triumphant return to her former hometown with her solo play Jake's Gift, which also opened at the Wildside this week. It's a poignant piece, directed by Dirk Van Stralen, about a Second World War veteran who visits Juno Beach on the 60th anniversary of D-Day.
Mackey plays the veteran, as well as the 10-year-old French girl who looks after his brother's grave, and the girl's grandmother. It's a play that wears its maple leaf on its sleeve.
Single-minded in its desire to pay homage to those who fought and died for their country, Jake's Gift leads, artfully and predictably, to a two-hanky ending.”
toronto fringe festival, july 2007
★★★★ | EYE WEEKLY | Paul Isaacs
“This economical one-woman show is impressively written and performed by Julia Mackey, and should be a great draw for younger kids and their grandparents. The narrative itself is fairly clichéd, and the conclusion too obviously attempts to tug at our heartstrings, but this is largely a successful and tasteful production.
(Never underestimate the importance of sensible good taste at the Fringe.)”
gabriola theatre centre, january 2007
NANAIMO BULLETIN | Bruce Mason
““The response has been overwhelming and very supportive,” says Mackey, who has built up an active network that she describes as “a bunch of 80 year-old boyfriends across the country.”
The newest member of that elite group is legendary actor Antony Holland, who says: “Something quite extraordinary happened. I’m a veteran of the Second World War, and this play and its performance made a greater impact on me than all the memorial services I have ever attended.”
Holland, an 86-year old thespian, director and educator has presented more than 200 plays at his Gabriola Theatre Centre. After two performances of Jake’s Gift he made an unprecedented decision to ask Mackey back for three more performances (January 26 - 28)
“I have no hesitation in saying that we witnessed the launch of a new Canadian play, which is going to reach the hearts of people all across this country and I wanted her back before she is swept away on a national tour,” he explained.
On Gabriola, retired university professor, Gary Prideaux, was in the audience for what he says is: “By far the best live theatre I have ever seen, extremely moving; the subject was dealt with in both a poignant and humorous manner, while not being overly melodramatic.
“Like most folks, I laughed, cried, and empathized because my uncle Carl – a simple, Chevrolet mechanic from Parsons, Kansas - survived D-Day. I was ever grateful to him, and spoke with him many times in my youth about his experiences,” Prideaux added.”