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Brighton Fringe 2007

James Dean is Dead …

Dorothy’s Friends Productions/ White Room Theatre.

Venue: The Cella, Sanctuary Cafe


Low Down

An energetic and comprehensive biography of the iconic movie star


In Jackie Skarvellis’ play, James Dean narrates the story of his own life from a limbo from which he cannot escape.  Beginning and ending with the car crash that killed him the play tells of his progress from farm hand to movie legend, his obsession with speed, his homosexual adventuring and his troubled and edgy relationships with his peers and mentors.

There are a lot of words in this play and actor James Weisz performs at  breakneck speed to fit them all in to the allotted 90 minutes. This reviewer would wish for some judicious editing but despite this reservation there is some good, punchy material here that works well with the very physical style of the performance.  James is strongest when delivering these very choreographed set pieces.  He makes good contact with the audience but I felt his accent and diction suffered as a result of the fast pace.

While the physical style of storytelling works in and off itself I thought it was an interesting choice for a play about a naturalistic and emotionally driven actor.  I had to work hard to empathise with the character of James Dean and there were only a couple of moments in the play where we get to see the real emotional range of which Mr Weisz is clearly capable.

Nit picking aside this is a competent, slick and professional performance which deserves a wider audience.