JIMMY - Reviewed by Tanya Piejus | Regional News Connecting Wellington


Written by: Micky Delahunty with Parekawa Finlay

Directed by: Micky Delahunty

Hannah Playhouse, 5th Mar 2024

Reviewed by: Tanya Piejus

The writer’s note in the programme sets up the premise for JIMMY, a New Zealand Fringe Festival show, as “our friend Cole Hampton. It’s the story of Jimmy, a character Cole was playing in a script I wrote for him and Ari Leason. We were rehearsing it at the time of his death. We could never do that play. So we wrote JIMMY.” It’s a poignant and tender beginning for a heartfelt love-letter-cum-eulogy to a lost companion.

Five souls are alone in their own worlds: Jack (Jared Lee) is burrowing down an internet rabbit hole on the nature of the universe; Lou (Ari Leason) is creatively stuck by mourning; Orla (Olivia Marshall) is rehearsing for opening night of a Greek tragedy; Puāwai (Parekawa Finlay) is recalling Māori legends in the constellations; and James (Jono Weston) is remembering summer with his childhood friend. These disparate threads weave together over the course of an hour as these friends and relations of Jimmy’s come together to farewell him. It’s a simply effective and highly relatable narrative structure that is reflected daily in funeral rites the world over as people from each branch of an individual’s life join in remembrance. We learn about Jimmy – his daring, humorous, creative nature – through the recollections of these five.

The vignettes of memory, loss, and grief are interspersed with songs, the real strength of this production. Each cast member has written and performs at least one song and they come together to perform two by Cole Hampton himself, the entertaining Weirdo and the uplifting Good, which they deliver as an impromptu wake for Jimmy. The cast are endearing and clearly demonstrate the varying trauma of grief without going overboard. Leason is particularly strong with her beautiful voice and guitar-playing.

The underscoring theme of space and time reflects the ultimate message of JIMMY: even if you die, you still exist through other people. And that’s something we all should wish for upon a star.

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