By Jamie Rieger
Guests at the recent Veteran’s Supper at the Bow Island Legion were treated to a fantastic performance by Julia Mackey, who brought her one-woman performance, Jake’s Gift to town.
The play, about a World War II veteran who travels to Normandy for the 60th anniversary of D-Day, was written by Mackey after her own trip to Normandy in June, 2004.
Jake’s Gift evolved out of many interviews with veterans, a walk along the coastline, and her own lifelong interest in Remembrance Day.
The story is centered around Jake’s return to Normandy and his encounters with 10-year old, Isabelle, who unknowingly helps Jake in dealing with the past, including the death of his brother, Chester, whose life was lost in the war.
Mackey gives a stellar performance in playing all three characters in the play; Jake, Isabelle, and Isabelle’s grandmother and could fluidly move from one character to another with ease. From Isabelle’s insistent questioning to Jake’s curse-filled, impatient responses, Mackey played the roles with convincing accuracy.
The audience was kept fixated on Mackey as Jake and Isabelle developed an unlikely friendship, with the youngster helping the veteran on his journey. By the end of the performance, the people in attendance were on their feet, giving her a standing ovation for the very poignant message she delivered through her story, Jake’s Gift.
It is no surprise that Mackey and Jake’s Gift have received numerous awards, including the Betty Mitchell Award for outstanding performance by an actress in a drama in 2012. The play was also nominated for outstanding production.
Jake’s Gift was also nominated for outstanding solo performance at the Calgary Critics Awards in 2012.