Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean – Blackmore Players
The play written in 1976 focuses on a group of small-town friends who idolize James Dean, forming a fan club called “The Disciples of James Dean,” headed by young Mona, who worked as an extra on the film.
The story revolves around Mona’s claim that she gave birth to the son of Dean, fuelling her hopes of gaining her own sense of celebrity and somehow escaping the confines of small-town life.
As Mona and her old friends gather for the 20th anniversary of the night of Dean’s untimely demise in a car wreck on September 30, 1955, we find McCarthy, Texas, dusty and dry: it hasn’t rained in three years and the water in the town’s municipal system has reduced to little more than a few drips.
The play is a bit of a slow burner and takes a while to get into its stride. And in some cases the accents and rapid speech made it difficult to hear what was happening. In addition, some of the sound effects – in particular, the train and the radio were far too loud making it difficult to distinguish what was actually being said on the stage.
Sandra Trott delivers a strong performance as the conflicted Mona, showing off both the character’s strengths and failings to equal measure. As her best friend Sissy, Lisa Rawlings very nearly steals the show with her interpretation of the buxom beauty and brings us to a very poignant, pivotal moment in the show when she reveals her painful secret.
However, for me, the most authentic characterisation on the stage was from Lucie Burrow as Joanne, She gave a stella performance showing a full range of emotions and all credit to her as a performer becasue I felt she was completely believable as being transgender and I loved watching her even when she was not the centre of the action.
As a backdrop, the set adds to the action perfectly – the attention to detail is spot on and one of the best I have seen in a while.
Genys Young as Juanita, was very assured as the Christian bible worshipper but on occasions her accent did slip and she moved back to a very English accent against the plethera of Texan twangs! Gail Hughes, in the role of Stella May is full of brass and sass and I particularly loved the relationship she has with the quiet and unassuming Edna Louise played by Hilary Martin. It’s much harder to play a quiet understated character because you have much less to get your teeth into as a performer.
Playing the younger versions of Mona, Sissy and Joe were Emma Thwaite, Macey Brown and Nicolas Rayment. Emma mirrored very well the character developed by Sandra and gave a pert and naïve version of the older Mona. Macey, I felt had the perfect characterisation for young Sissy but her dialogue was often garbled and difficult to understand, slowing it down would make a massive difference, in fact both girls could do with working a little more on their diction to let us really understand their stories, which would give us a much better appreciation of their obvious talents.
Nicolas as Joe and the only male in the play, was ideally cast and had great pathos and just the right amount of anger and pain to make us feel for his difficult journey which took him to his life choices 20 years later.
Blackmore Players always make you feel so welcome as soon as you walk through the door, so It was a very enjoyable evening and we look forward to their next production. Thank you so much for inviting us once again.