Bite Into the Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden Fruit. The title alone conjures up red apples and serpents and all manner of biblical things, not to mention the worst of our state's race history. But Jimmy Lee, of J.Lee productions, is thinking of something more down-to-earth in his new play of the same name.

The play, which marks J.Lee's 10th production and fifth stage show, serves as both a milestone and the turning of a new leaf. "I just wanted to change up everything ... to show growth," J.Lee said.

The product of that growth is a play J.Lee promises will be "tastefully subversive." Like his previous play, "Everybody Plays a Fool," his new production presents couples dealing with infidelity and temptations. While that play focused on the comedy of people acting foolish, this one shows the steamier side of giving into temptation.

J.Lee promises his play will not feel like another played-out episode of "Cheaters." "It's a little deeper than that. I don't want to give away too much, but everything is done differently. It's not what you would expect," J.Lee said.

The play features six intertwining storylines that mix together two married couples desperate to get the spark back in their marriages‑—a woman debating getting into a relationship with a friend's ex, a bachelor whose serial dating is starting to catch up to him and a woman who always falls for men she can never have.

J.Lee's ability to weave all these narratives together serves as a testament to his increased writing ability. "I definitely think I have a little bit better knowledge of what an audience will relate to, and what they will react to, what will grab their attention," he said.

That seems to include eye candy as well as narrative nuggets. The ensemble cast has been toning up more than their dialogue since they started rehearsals in August. "My cast has been working out, and everyone has been to the gym," J.Lee said.

This kind of preparation was a wise choice, seeing as how the actors are planning on bearing more than their souls on stage. "Skin will be shown," promised J.Lee, who also kept affirming throughout the interview that his show was "tasteful" and "done with class." While he chortled at my attempts to get him to put a MPAA rating on the show, he did say, "We're definitely seeking a mature audience."

Don't feel shy, though. J.Lee fully expects to see all his own family at the show. "Of course, they better be there to support (me)," he exclaimed. "Don't go left field and think we're putting on a porno!"

Porno or not, the Alamo Theatre promises an intimate affair, something J.Lee thought of when selecting the venue. "You can really feel what the cast is going through and get a feeling up close and personal with what is happening on stage," he said.

This will be J.Lee's first stage show at the Alamo. The Farish Street theater was the site of two film screenings by J.Lee productions, including the short film "The Murder," which J.Lee said significantly broadened his audience. "It just opened a lot of eyes to J.Lee production like, "Oh, maybe they do know what they are doing," J.Lee said.

The quality of his productions is something that some may not expect from a Jackson-based studio.

"Everyone was pleasantly shocked that it was definitely something that could rival any movie that's in a theatre right now," he added.

Movie-goers and stage enthusiasts alike can catch "Forbidden Fruit" at the Alamo Theatre (333 N. Farish St.) on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m., and Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.

By: Mo Wilson For the Jackson Free Press


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