By Oliver Joszt and Peter Richter
There are some people who touch our lives even after they have passed away. For Mona, that person was James Dean.
In Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, the Spitz Theater transports its audiences back in time to Texas in the 1950s and the 1970s. Rebecca Basham, the director and a professor in the English Department, enjoyed the play because it lets people look back at Dean’s movies, which are about “being other and being different.”
The play takes place in the 1970s but it also looks back to the 1950s, when Mona was an extra in Giant, the last movie Dean made. Even 20 years later, that experience is still the best that ever happened to her. In a way, Come Back to the 5 and Dime is about how women cope with loss.
What makes the play so interesting is that there is no one singular theme. The play touches upon many themes, including change, religion, social class, false idols, gender issues, homosexuality and paranoia. The play has many topics, but it is able to balance all of them.
Despite the small space, everything on the intricately designed set was used, from the refrigerator that stores drinks to the haunting shrine of Dean. Every piece of the set represents some part of the time period.
The screen door, fan and lighting are passageways for all characters and all time periods. Each part helps make the transitions from past to present much more fluid and clarifies what time period the character is in. Basham does not insult her audiences by making an abrupt change.
All the characters are coming to the store as a place that represents home in some way. The parallels in time establish the idea of confession. The characters coming home are searching for some sort of salvation, whether they know it or not. At times, it seems as if what happens on one side of the stage (present) is a mirror image of what is going on in the other side (past). Ultimately, this creates a collision between the two.
The cast worked well together, bringing out the best in one another. However, some actors stand out. The older Mona (freshman Kaitlyn Frotton) seems ghostly and unlike any other character on stage because she is haunted by her past. Frotten portrays Mona perfectly, creating a sense of loss and wanting — wanting for something that she can never have.
Yet, Edna Louise, played by junior Joanne Nosuchinsky, steals the show. She provides moments of much needed comic relief, especially in between arguments and heavy conversations. Nosuchinsky’s comedic timing is perfect when filling in any breaks in the conversation. However, Nosuchinsky not only provides laughs but she also provides heartbreaking moments, especially in one scene where Joanne (freshman Kelcie Kosberg) tells Edna that she shines like a sun. Her wide-eyed look mesmerizes viewers and brings out the innocence and fragility of her character.
The only downfall of the play is that it may be complicated at first. The play begins with a lot of unknown history between the characters and audiences may be confused as to how all of the characters are connected and who they are.
Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean gives a historical look at sexual identity, a sense of somewhere else in the country and characters that run the gambit from very complex to very simple.