Hello Norma Jean
Giant Cherry Productions
Park Theatre (London) until 19th March
Vicki Michelle, known more famously as the cheeky waitress Yvette in the classic series ‘Allo ‘Allo, gives a likeable, engaging performance as Essex pensioner Lynette Smith or ‘Lynnie’; a runaway Nan stowed away in a Hollywood hotel suite with her Grandson’s credit card… The same Grandson- Joe (Jamie Hutchins) arrives early on in the play to rescue Lynnie and bring her safely home as she tries to convince him she’s Marilyn Monroe.
The play opens with video clips of news reports about the death of Marilyn Monroe projected onto the hotel bedroom wall, in a room centred around a unmade double bed, red satin sheets thrown across, and mini-bar bottles of alcohol strewn across the room- the last thing the audience expects is for a 76 year old Grandma to reside here! Costello makes frequent factual references to the real Marilyn and Lynnie’s crude, foul mouthed jokes about JFK and Arthur Miller provoked several smutty sniggers from the audience.
Mathew Gould’s direction in this camp, farcical comedy, ensures the piece, despite needing an edit or two in places, is fast paced, energetic and enjoyably melodramatic.
Farrel Hegarty multi roles as the grandson’s imagined Marilyn Monroe, as well as Norma Jeane, but seems most comfortable and in turn shines in a brief scene as a scathing provocative News Reporter- Carla.
Sadly the characterisation of ‘Bobby’, an out of work actor hired by Lynnie, feels stereotypical and cliché, his manic nature veers on overacting and otherwise he seems to serve purely as a semi-dressed prop there to be ‘ogled at’ which is a real shame, as the play had the potential to challenge the way in which homosexuals are presented on stage, but unfortunately falls short.
Jamie Hutchins’ performance as the stressed grandson was the highlight of the entire production. Flitting from a display of real sensitivity and vulnerability in sentimental moments with his Grandma, and realisation of his betrayal by his boyfriend back home, he then explodes into an energetic and enigmatic performance, frequently portraying a rather endearing ‘Ron-Weasley like’ fear and panic facial expression.
Dylan Costello creates an interesting premise and I’m sure this play will have no problem attracting audiences, as Lynnie states ‘Everyone loves Marilyn Monroe’ or at least everyone has an opinion on this incredibly famous actress and sex-symbol.
Hello Norma Jeane is on at the Park Theatre from 23rd February until 19th March 2016.
© E. D-Reams 2016