In the intimacy of the King’s Head Theatre, the stage is set as a seedy motel; only the flickering neon sign out of the window is missing. Joe (Jamie Hutchins) is at his wits end; his grandmother Lynnie (Vicki Michelle) has “wandered off” from the nursing home and has fled 8000 miles across the Atlantic to Hollywood, Los Angeles. She is waiting for the right moment to reveal her true identity and shake the world once more. No, she is not just a quick-witted and foul-mouthed Essex granny; she is in fact Marilyn Monroe, who faked her death, took refuge in Stockthorpe-on-Sea and reinvented herself.
Is Lynnie really Marilyn or is she just an old lady, who wants to go out with a bang instead of wasting away in a depressing nursing home? In the ensuing chaos Joe clashes with his domineering and cheating boyfriend and is sent to gather the four clues that will prove Lynnie’s true identity. He is conflicted as much as he is loyal and naïve. Unemployed actors and reality TV are thrown in the mix – it is Hollywood after all – not to mention the different versions of Marilyn that haunt the protagonists’ thoughts.
Dylan Costello has written a funny and layered play, with many comic references from pop culture and lifestyle, which are mostly delivered by Vicki Michelle and Farrel Hegarty – in her different embodiments of Marilyn. He explores what is true love, what is a meaningful life and has included the necessary twists to keep the audience intrigued. Despite its enjoyable one-liners and moving instances, at times some scenes felt repetitive and the mind wandered and at times the acting was flat and unconvincing. Despite these disadvantages, Hello, Norma Jean makes an enjoyable accompaniment to a Sunday pint.