30 Jul

By Jackie Skarvellis
At the Kings Head

And Death shall have no Dominion – said Dylan Thomas.
It seems Jackie Skarvellis, who died last year feels the same way
In her play James Dean has just crashed his car and he is fatally injured. He rises from his death to speak to us about his life. . He begins with a joke.
‘Spyder Porsche, my Baby. A car to die for’
Here is a young man who is speaking from the heart. Like a confession, he doesn’t care what he says. He knows that Hollywood is all full of sex hungry people. He has sexual hunger of his own that is enough to allow him to act out his dream. He can give people what they want. His own sexuality was ambivalent and he is prepared to put up with everything, even torture, in order to get on to the ladder of movie fame. He tells of his nickname The Human Ashtray because he is covered in cigarette burns where predators have put out their cigarettes on his naked body.
Eventually he gets his chance and he becomes a cultural image of teenage disillusionment in first of all East of Eden and then Rebel Without A Cause His final film was ‘Giant’ with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. East of Eden was the only one that was released when he was alive, and he won two posthumous Academy Award nominations.
Kit Edwards is great casting as Dean.. The words that come out of his mouth seem to be his own, not something he has had to learn. He looks the part – wearing the 101s, the white t shirt, the bomber jacket. He is a little frightening sometimes, sometimes funny and often heart breaking. His romantic side is expressed when he sings ‘The Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ ..Dean had not too serious dreams of marriage to Pier Angeli but was put off at the idea of himself as a paunchy father playing with his kids. But it still hurt when Pier suddenly got married to Vic Damone.
Dean was a pin up boy for both sexes because of his androgynous appeal. Even Jackie Skarvellis, the writer of this passionate monologue must have admired him. She was never happy with straight guys and much of her knowledge about him must have come from her gay friends.
This play is also a reminder that the predators of Hollywood were not only the abusers of women, but would show favouritism to any young person who would not reject their sexual advances.
The show, directed by Peter Darney, will come back to the Kings Head at the end of August.

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