Sunday, 20 March 2011

Marilyn

Citizens' Theatre Glasgow
4 stars

"Who said Lady Macbeth was a brunette?" spits Marilyn Monroe at one
point in Sue Glover's imagined history of the bottle blonde bombshell's
encounters with French icon Simone Signoret in a Beverley Hills hotel
in 1960. Her outburst is the crux of Monroe's sense of frustration at
being cast as the eternal dumb blonde while filming the risible Let's
Make Love with Signoret's husband Yves Montand. In private too, while
Dominique Hollier's stately Signoret talks politics with Monroe's
latest father figure husband, Arthur Miller, Monroe is needy,
vulnerable, neurotic and insomniac, desperate to be taken seriously as
she reads Shakespeare rather than learning her lines. Darting between
the two is Pattie, Pauline Knowles's Olive Oil like hairdresser to the
stars who is the only one to see the real roots of Monroe's bad
daydream of a life.

Kenny Miller's footlit, red carpeted catwalk of a set gives the play an
old school Citz feel, as does its post-modern affinity with pop
cultural iconography which Philip Howard's handsomely audacious
production brings out from the off, with Frances Thorburn's bumping and
grinding entrance as Marilyn. As she and Signoret in turns bond and
bitch, as a mother and daughter would,Monroe is revealed as a scarred
and frightened little girl yearning for a Daddy to call her own in a
world that is as much ageist as sexist, and which ultimately killed her.

It's a bravura turn by Thorburn, particularly in Marilyn's mock award
speech, where she finally gives vent to her real voice. As Marilyn
applies her pouting presence to Lady M, she may get her man rather than
Simone's Oscar, but she's losing a whole lot more.

The Herald, February 23rd 2011

ends

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