Pros: Victoria Rigby’s performance of a fallen rock-star is breathtaking. From her first whirlwind moment on stage to the tearful but defiant goodbye, Rigby fully becomes her character.
Cons: There is truly nothing negative about this play, other than the theatre is out of the way!
Old small town America breathed to life by a girl with big time dreams, as Victoria Rigby plays the defiant Jeannie Hogan. In this instance the cliché “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll” is an apt description of the spiralling life of this wannabe rock-star. Set on the cusp of the 70s, Girl From Nowhere was an emotional trip back in time when America was disillusioned with itself yet trying to hold on to some semblance of pride. The end of the Vietnam War was in sight; the Apollo mission put the first men on the moon; and the Watergate Scandal was hiding in the wings of Capitol Hill.
Rigby’s performance of an ambitious Texan teenager from a nothing town was compelling. Being from America myself, I can honestly say that her southern drawl was pretty convincing—if not quite Texan. I found Jeannie Hogan’s story of rise to stardom so compelling that I stopped analysing the play and became totally absorbed in it.
The set was minimal but still managed to capture the essence of an adolescent girl. A pink bedspread and a teal radio from the 60’s complete with records gave just the right touch. Hanging pictures that could almost be construed as windows showed the classic American southwest: long flat desert roads, dry mountains, and old abandoned gas stations that once peppered the highways.
At first, the audience didn’t see Jeannie but we hear her screaming hellishly at her mother. When Jeannie storms onto stage, she is a fiery ball of rage. In a fit like a flash flood she throws her boots and jewellery against the wall. She at last acknowledges the audience as she declares that she wants to tell her story, because everyone else would tell it wrong. Turning on a recorder she tells us how she was supposed to be famous. She was going places, but it was all ruined now—not that it was her fault!
Going back to the beginning of her story, Jeannie explains how she used to sing in the local bar. That is where she met her first and true love. Together they ran away to perform in the big cities. Yet feisty Jeannie felt that her boyfriend and his band were holding her back. Ditching him for another man with angelic features and Buddhist sensibilities, she reached for that golden dream of being a rock-star. Yet one crushing review sent her spiralling into despair. She experimented with heroin and it was downhill from there.
Jeannie touched fame only to fall so low that she was forced to return home disgraced, pregnant and with her true love dead. Her recording of this—the telling of her story, is for the one she was leaving behind. Despite everything, Jeannie was a wild and independent woman. She has time for no one but herself. I felt equal amounts of sympathy and disgust for Jeannie. For in the end, it was her decisions that led her down the road of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.
Rigby’s script is powerful and it really captured that transitional era between the 60s and 70s. Her skills go beyond just writing and acting, for she is also a talented singer and guitarist. Yet, her greatest achievement in my opinion is how her play has stuck with me even days later. This is definitely is a must see one-act!
Author: Victoria Rigby.
Director: Niall Wilson.
Producer: Arsalan Sattari.
Box Office: 020 7978 7040
Booking Link: https://theatre503.com/book-online/
Booking Until: May 31st.