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The Merry Widow - Opera North (Salford)

Marilyn (Glasgow)

By • Scotland
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Andy Warhol’s white toothed, red lipped portrait of Marilyn Monroe is brought sharply into focus in Sue Glover’s world premiere play. Holding a mirror to Hollywood, this witty and colourful new drama attempts to remove the layers of makeup which history has painted on Monroe, darkening her mascara and striking at the deep issues which perhaps led her to suicide.

Frances Thorburn’s Monroe is a complex one, seething with the excesses and insecurities of a life spent in the spotlight. Clutching a shallow Martini glass and bouncing on her tiptoes, Thorburn has the poise of a starlet, elegantly angling her shoulders as though a suitor might throw a sable on them at any moment. Her dazzling portrayal captures both Monroe’s playful naivety and obsessive jealousies, successfully marrying the dual roles of blonde bimbo and unfulfilled doomed heroine.

As confidante and rival film star Simone Signoret, Dominique Hollier smoulders with a quiet sense of feminist defiance. The sheer physicality of her presence is quite incredible. She delivers her lines with a voice that sounds wizened through a thousand contemplative cigarettes, powerfully capturing the iron-clad spirit of an actress who sought to break the “pretty little fool” image of women in film and bring a sense of guttersnipe realism to the silver screen.

Alongside Pauline Knowles’s wonderfully gossipy hair colourist Patti, the cast sparkle like a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon, quiet bubbling through the script’s at times slow moments and exploding with passion in the play’s dramatic and heartbreakingly torturous conclusion, a rapturous and claustrophobic audio-visual presentation by Euan McLaren.

This excellent potted history drops the rose tinted Chanel sunglasses through which we view Monroe and dextrously searches for the dark roots of one of film’s most misunderstood stars.


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