Perth Theatre 4 stars The story of the making of Gone With The Wind is as epic as the big-screen adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s thousand-page novel itself. Ron Hutchinson’s own adventures in the screen trade over thirty-odd years have clearly been channelled into his reimagining of what might have gone on in producer David O Selznick’s office during the fateful week he ditched both script and director. The end result is a relentlessly turbo-charged meeting of bullish but fragile minds, as Selznick puts idealistic script-doctor Ben Hecht and Wizard of Oz director Victor Fleming under lock and key for a five-day marathon where deadlines and desperation go hand in hand.
As Hecht’s desire to tell uncomfortable truths about America are over-ridden by Selznick’s need entertain the masses, Hutchinson’s play sets up a neat debate on the tug of love between art and commerce. Personal insecurities too are brought to the fore. While Selznick must prove to his father-in-law, movie mogul Louis B Meyer, that he’s no failure, Fleming lives in fear of winding up a chauffeur again. As for Hecht, well, he’s a writer.
In the closing production of her inaugural season, director Rachel O’Riordan navigates her cast through the play’s heightened, hyper-manic drive in a way she did similarly with the equally breathless The Gentleman’s Tea-Drinking Society a couple of years back while running the Ransom company. The interplay between Joseph Chance as Hecht, Benny Young as Fleming and especially Steven McNicoll as Selznick ricochets around the stage, with the only pause for breath coming from Helen Logan as the unflappable Miss Poppenguhl in this delicious dissection of Hollywood Babylon in exelcis.
The Herald, March 20th 2012