I Loved Lucy – Jermyn Street Theatre Until 23rd April
Written by Lee Tannen this is his story of his friendship with Lucille Ball and principally the last ten years of her life. Lucille (Lucy) Ball is arguably the most famous female American comedian that has ever been. She was in over one hundred films and then went on to be a household name whilst hosting her own “sit-com”. The weekly episodes showed her antics as a chaotic all American housewife who got herself into some hilarious scrapes.
This writing really feels straight from authors heart to page to stage. The glorious words come to life by the portrayal of Ball by Sandra Dickinson. The resemblance to Ball is uncanny and is evident from the pictures on the “Lucy” letters behind her and on the projections on the heart shaped screen. However it is the acting and indeed the laugh which absolutely blew me away.
Dickinson brought Ball to life in a phenomenal way which made you actually made you momentarily forget that you were watching her portrayal and not Ball herself.
The narrator telling the story was Lee Tannen (Stefan Menaul) the author of the book. The author met Ball at the tender age of ten when she married into his extended family. Tannen clearly already worshipped Ball and Menaul tells this so well that the love effuses from him.
What moved me to tears is that Ball’s last years of her life whilst evidently laced with happiness when she was playing backgammon with her friend, in her Beverly hills home, there was much sadness as the star recognised her age and ultimately her demise. She hungered after her infamous notoriety and as with many comedians there was a darker side to her which was cleverly demonstrated by the actors here.
It’s testament to the author and the incredible career defining portrayal of Ball and Tannen by Dickinson and Menaul that we felt that we’d been a fly on the wall of those final years.
I really enjoyed this play it was informative and superbly well acted in a performance space that was perfect for it.