Filtered through the consciousness of the bright eyed and burnt out Jeannie, Victoria Rigby’s new play explores all that was best and worst about the sixties. Appearing as just another rock chick, with records scattered about and a battered acoustic guitar, Jeannie soon takes us down through a world of egomania, violence and beautiful music.
The play is strong and engaging
Jeannie (played by Rigby herself) is a free spirit who emerges from the unpromising town of Coyote Creek in West Texas. Her abiding passion for music forces her to break out so she can forge a career as a rock star, with all its many pitfalls. Rigby’s performance is layered and heartfelt. She moves from scene to scene with an effortless sincerity that makes her oddly vulnerable and admirable at the same time. Her singing voice accentuates this, brilliantly treading the line between innocence and sultriness. One would need a heart of stone to avoid welling up at her rendition of the Stones’ No Expectations. Rigby should also be praised for the tact with which she deals with her heroine’s tragedy and the authentic feminist anger her play manages to summon on the way towards its chilling denouement.
The show is not without its share of problems. The script relies on one too many convenient coincidences to get from A to B (‘this guy I just bumped into in the desert has an opening in his band’) and certain scenes drag, rather than bounce, along. The lengthy introduction of the angelic Chet is wearying and not altogether believable in the light of later revelations.
For the most part though the play is strong and engaging, as Jeannie becomes both a hero and a victim of her times.