The Lives and Loves of Vera Dymond (24:7 Festival, Manchester)
Jayne Marshall's play takes a look at a woman's life in show business
In her younger days, Vera Dymond was a legend on the Blackpool showbiz circuits (so we are led to believe) and now in the twilight of her career she is trying to make a half-hearted comeback.
Vera is flanked by two brassy starlets, The Dymontees, who are hot on her heels for the limelight, all three are pushed on by their chauvinistic manager, Vic. It is a familiar narrative detailing the clichéd darker side of show business and moments of realisation, culminating in female solidarity.
Writer Jayne Marshall has produced a well layered and humorous story which uses flashbacks to further flesh out Vera's experiences. The interaction between Dymontees, doe-eyed Renee (Kimberley Hart Simpson) and hardened Caitlin (Laura Mould) are snappy and well timed. However, sometimes it does feel as though the script is overrun with clichés, which makes it unbelievable and tiresome at times.
Music by Tom Byrne complements the action and provides a pleasing backdrop; lighting changes to indicate flashbacks to Vera's younger days work well also. However, I was not totally convinced by the miming and direction during the flashback sections. Although, the actors were convincing and the writing was believable - I felt that the staging during the flashbacks to Vera's earlier life does require some attention.
The Lives and Loves of Vera Dymond explores a lot of relevant and interesting themes surrounding women in show business, particularly, the place of older women in an society which places so much emphasis on the way that you look. This is an ambitious and intriguing play and I would love to see these themes tightened and explored further to give a more cohesive production.