Fringe Fest: When Jack Goes to Therapy, we all do

At this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival, UBC Bachelor of Education alumnus Zac Williams presents his one-man play Jack Goes to Therapy: A (Somewhat) Romantic Comedy.

Williams began his theatre journey back in high school and has carried his passion with him since. After completing his undergraduate degree at McMaster University, he decided to take his acting career to the next level — he completed an MA in acting at the University of Essex, then attended UBC to complete his BEd in secondary theatre. Alongside acting projects, he works as a substitute teacher.

If you see Jack Goes to Therapy, prepare to laugh until your stomach hurts, question your own dating life and even shed a few tears.

We learn about Jack’s day-to-day life as a single man and kindergarten teacher. When an attempt to reignite excitement in his relationship results in his boyfriend abandoning him for someone else, Jack, the play’s protagonist, decides to attend therapy sessions.

Williams’ decision to portray Jack as a kindergarten teacher was intended to create “interesting dynamics between what he's learning in therapy and what his students are learning from him.” Throughout the show we discover that this learning goes both ways — he helps his students, and they do the same for him.

The performance held the perfect mix of comedy and heartfelt moments, and Williams’ writing flowed between the two with ease. What started off as a set of hilarious vignettes became a moving story of truth, honesty and self-realization.

Comedic encounters with five-year olds, school staff members and hookups transform into insights into the lives and struggles of the people who surround Jack. A flirtatious woman is also a grieving mother, a casual hookup is a man choosing between personal happiness and his family and an annoying coworker is a woman attempting to support her nervous son after he reveals his sexuality, while simultaneously navigating her own divorce. Through the development of his relationship to these characters, Jack learns that broken hearts are everywhere, but with friendship and love, he can heal.

Jack talks to the audience directly, depicting his inner thoughts and daily routines. He discusses his breakup, his plan to propose to his boyfriend prior to their separation and his desire to find the perfect date to accompany him on a vacation to New Zealand originally booked for him and his boyfriend.

The play’s vulnerability made it extremely relatable, capturing the feelings of finding yourself after heartbreak and the need for support and community during this process.

Williams wanted to write an “openly Queer love story.” Jack’s character aims to be an honest depiction of what it means to be a gay man in the 21st century, inspired by Williams’ lived experiences. It brilliantly showcases Jack’s experiences dealing with social ignorance regarding his identity and his own process of accepting and loving himself.

Seeing this show almost feels like a therapy session. By the end of it, audience members can certainly expect to leave with realizations about their own healing.