Born in the shadow of Dusty

Me, Mum and Dusty Springfield

Old Joint Stock

****

MARY is not exactly the son, or even the daughter of a preacher man – more  the result of a union between a lecherous Tom Jones tribute act and a horizontally accommodating Dusty Springfield impersonator.

She is also Stephanie Ridings, the writer and performer of this 50 minute monologue set among the second hand glitz of second hand stars.

The idea for the play came on a train journey listening to Dusty Springfield's greatest hits when Stephanie was struck with the melancholy themes of the lyrics and an idea was born.

A mum who was a Dusty tribute act who had, like the real star, a drink problem and who died young of breast cancer which had been in remission and returned.

Springfield, whose real name was Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien, incidentally, was 59 when she died in 1999. Wisely Stepahie stayed well away from the real Dusty's sexuality and her lesbian relationships and her diagnosis with b-polar disorder.

This is not a play about Dusty but about a mother who is obsessed with the singer and her daughter who as a schoolgirl could come down to breakfast and find Tom Jones, usually, or any other bloke from a range of imitation stars, already there sharing the cornflakes.

The monologue takes place after the funeral, with mum in an urn, in the dressing room for a tribute concert where her daughter is to sing dressed as Dusty, or at least her mum, after being made to promise she would do it by her other as death closed in.

She hates the idea and as she prepares we hear snippets, some sad, some funny, of incidents in her life which has seen a hard childhood with no friends and a mother seen as a slapper.

It is all building up to that final song, the tribute act to a tribute act and You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, a No 1 hit for Springfield in 1966.

But, that was not the end. There was still a twist. Even with her mother's death she had not escaped the life she had been left by her mother. As she collected her bag and left she phoned her boyfriend to collect her from the airport when her flight got into Faliraki in Rhodes where they were living.

Her boyfriend . . . he's an Enrique Iglesias tribute act.

It is a clever idea which has grown and been refined since that train journey in 2009, which in turn led to a sell out at the Edinburgh festival. The Sharon Foster produced tour ends at the Atrix in Bromsgrove on 03-11-12.

Roger Clarke 

And for an encore . . .

***

IT was during an uneventful train journey in 2009 that author Stephanie Ridings had the inspiration to write this black comedy.

 Listening to some of Dusty Springfield's greatest hits she was affected by the melancholy lyrics, felt there must be a play in there, and got to work.

 Now Stephanie is touring with the one-woman show and also fills the role of a young woman reflecting on her difficult life with a mother who is on the tribute circuit, playing Dusty.

Mum had a drink problem and then developed breast cancer, just like the star, and the play is set after the funeral with the daughter - having placed an urn containing ashes on her dressing table - delivering a 55-minute resume of incidents, sad and amusing, in the shadow of the famous singer.

And there is an emotional high spot when Stephanie pops on the false eye lashes, blonde wig and one of her mum's full-length performance dresses and sings "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me", at the funeral.

This touching tale is directed by Chris Sudworth. To 02.11.12

 Paul Marston 

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