Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Moonlight and Magnolias


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

ends

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