Edinburgh Fringe 2009
The ashes of Mary’s mother lie on the kitchen table, awaiting their final send off. You don’t have to say you love me, just be close at hand. You don’t have to stay forever, I will understand. An insight into the world of the look-a-likes and the parallel universe they create for themselves, in this case Dusty Springfield.
Regulars of Assembly @ The Mound know that exercise is involved if you want to see a show. Never mind the climb to actually get there, you’ve then got ascend fifty odd stairs to access most venues. For most this isn’t a problem but when you’re well past 80 and a bit doddery on your pins, it can seem like a daunting prospect. No wonder the gentleman escorting his elderly mother was concerned that the challenge would be beyond her. Cue entry of enterprising venue staff and said couple were miraculously deposited in the front row of a sparse audience on this last day of Fringe festivities. Him and His Mum, just waiting for Dusty to appear. But what they made of this show, written and performed by Stephanie Ridings, I’m not quite sure.
This gentle satire opens the door on the world of the show business impersonators with the querky, slightly shoddy glamour of this entertainment genre providing moments of whimsical absurdity as well as a certain sadness.
Mary was left to her own devices from a very early age by her self-obsessed, alcoholic Dusty Springfield impersonating mother. Fathered by the long departed Tom Jones (not the one you’re thinking of either), her life revolves around her mother’s struggle to make a living on the circuit along with all those other hard working look-a-likes. She longs for love, affection and recognition but finds none. As the roles gradually reverse and the child takes on the role of parent, so the relationship deteriorates leaving Mary alone with her frustrations and her mother with the comforts of her alter-ego and the bottle, which ultimately hastens her demise. But even as she goes to her final resting place, Mary’s mother is making demands, this time that her daughter sing one last Dusty Springfield number to send her on her way.
Yet we really don’t get closure, despite a lusty rendition of “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” to finish off the show. We are left hanging, wondering whether Mary has finally found resolution between the make believe world in which she existed until her mother’s death and the real one in which she now has to make her own way. It’s a puzzlement, although Him and His Mum seem more concerned about how they are going to get down all those steps on the way out.