Tuesday, 24 May 2016

"Come Back To The Five And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean"
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre.

Written by Ed Graczyck there was a film made in 1982, based on the play by Graczyck made in 1976. The play is set partly in 1975 and 1955, the year Dean was killed in a car crash.

The Disciples Of James Dean meet up, 20 years after his death at the "Five and Dime". Some of the women have changed, some have not and one is, at the beginning, completely unrecognisable. as they start to relive the past 20 years, memories resurface and truths come to the surface and erupt.

The set is a mirror image, just two decades apart, although you may notice that the seventies set is slightly more worn, and even the floor tiles appear a little more brown than white. All creating an aged affect. There is a great attention to detail with the set and you can tell the hard work that has been put in by the set designer Stephanie Cullingford.

Attention to detail is shown even before the play starts with some mood setting music from country artists like Ronnie Milsap, B.J. Thomas, Freddy Fender, himself a born Texan, and Glen Campbell among others.

Carol Parkinson plays Juanita, the owner of the Texan watering hole. Juanita is the mother hen of the play and is the main link between the two sets in the 50's and the 70's. A lovely character driven role, as are all of the characters in the play.

Kareena Sims plays Mona who claims to have had a part in Dean's film "Giant" and that Dean fathered her child Jimmy Dean, twenty years earlier. Slightly neurotic and forever berating her unseen son.

The 1950's Mona is played by Charlie Bailey, and this is her debut stage performance for the Lace Market Theatre. This play features several debuts.....

Another brilliant debut is for Sheanne Hogarth as Sissy. Previously of the Nottingham Trent University Drama society Sheanne is a definite bonus to the Lace Market. She is bubbly and has real stage presence. You would not have guessed that this was her Lace Market debut a s she oozed confidence and humour, even in the light of the losses she has suffered as a woman in the previous years.

Younger Sissy is played by another Lace Market Theatre debut actor, Lauren Stephenson. You may recognise her though from the Nottingham Arts Theatre panto from 2015 where she played Cinderella. like Sheanne, oozing with confidence.

Dani Wain plays Edna Louise. i love this character as she is the most vulnerable of the lot. She has some lovely naive lines and takes the insults from some of the others on the chin and still seems to seek acceptance from the other Disciples. A lovely subtle performance from Dani, and she deals with the baby bump really well. Sorry let me clarify this. The character, Edna Louise is pregnant for the seventh time.

Stella Mae is played by Rosina Reading, and turns in another wonderful character-driven role in killer wedges.

There is an actual Texan in the cast and Julie Fleming is the one. Julie plays Joanne, the "stranger" who rolls up in a yellow Porsche. the other Disciples soon work out that Joanne used to be Joe.

Joe, the only male in the cast, is played by Jak Truswell. In the film Joe is a "sensitive" soul who is treated as a freak by the rest of the town, His love for Mona isn't reciprocated and this is the catalyst for his decision for a complete change, returning for the 20th anniversary as Joanne. Jak plays down a lot of the sensitive side of Joe from the film, but still manages to retain the vulnerability of the character.

I've always found that accents at the Lace Market have always been done rather well and that legacy continues. The Texan accent has often been over done but, with an actual Texan in the cast, you'd expect an accurate twang, and that's what we had, all the way through. The consistency throughout is another tribute to the whole cast.

Changing from the 70's to the 50's is done by subtle lighting changes, courtesy of Allan Green, assisted by Rose Dudley. Also setting the feel of the two periods are the costumes (Barry Holland and Doreen Hunt) and some wonderful wigs and make up.

There is of course one person I've not yet mentioned, Directed by Bex Mason, this is another massive directorial success for Bex following on from "Beautiful Thing". The pace of the play is snappy and it trundles along at a steady confident rate.

It's a lovely nostalgic tale or remembrance and hope as well as recognition of what's gone in the lives of a small town community group.

"Come Back To The Five And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" is another wonderful production from the theatre who rarely fail to produce little performed but excellent plays. It's on until Saturday 28 May 2016. Go and support this incredibly talented bunch and discover one of Nottingham's hidden gems of entertainers.

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