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DEATH, Dumb, Blonde

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
Blonde ambition is all over the Citz this week. To compliment Marilyn,
Sue Glover’s audacious look at the ultimate tragic pin-up girl for its
final lost weekend in the main theatre before transferring to
Edinburgh, the Circle Studio plays host to writer and director Neil
Doherty’s arguably even wilder dissection of the Marilyn Monroe legend,
in which Doherty attempts to reclaim the screen goddess’s fragile
psyche in an entirely different fashion.

At first glance things look geared to a post-Warhollian trash aesthetic
in exelcis, as Tyler Collins’ be-wigged Drag Act enters his/her boudoir
to a David Bowie soundtrack. As emotional traumas are laid bare, the
superstars in the doorstop-size Monroe biography under the bed step off
the pages to find a truly captive audience. First up comes Jonathan
Dunn’s Sharp Shooter, part gangster, part shrink, part grim reaper, who
puts the Drag Act under the influence until Kirsti Quinn’s Dumb Blonde
herself appears to confess all about who she was before the studios
reinvented her.

In a piece that is more willfully overwrought Kathy Acker style cut-up
than well-made play, Doherty looks to Joyce Carol Oates’ magnum opus,
Blonde, for inspiration. After that, however, anything goes in a messy
and discursive exploration of twentieth century American pop mythology
that at moments recalls early Sam Shepard at his most strung-out.

As the debut outing for Doherty’s SeenUnSeen company, it’s a pretty
bold calling card. But then, now even Nick Cave is singing of giving a
gift of the spinal cord of JFK wrapped in Monroe’s negligee to his true
love, Marilyn’s brittle elegy to herself looks oddly on the money.

The Herald, March 11th, 2011

ends

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