The Courtyard at Covent Garden
Where: Inner London
3 March 2006 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Glamour girl and Celebrity Love Islander Abi Titmuss makes her theatrical debut taking on the work of one of the world’s most celebrated playwrights – the late, great Arthur Miller – in , his semi-autobiographical collection of two very different plays about his relationship with Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe. And, I confess disappointingly, the enterprise is not as much of a car crash as many anticipated. Two Way Mirror
Mike Miller (no relation) has done a reasonable job of guiding Titmuss through what must be familiar territory as she poses in a negligee in faux-dramatic, freeze-frame moments during Act One (titled Some Kind of Love Story), a pastiche of a cop drama almost in the Top Gun vein in which Titmuss is a Monroe-type blonde bombshell who “holds the key to the case”. The comedy comes complete with cringe-worthy sound effects and cheesy music, which, although adding to the intentional naffness, does get slightly irritating.
And, although Titmuss throws herself into the role (and at her co-star, accomplished US actor
Jay Benedict), there are times when it's extremely difficult to distinguish whether her acting is intentionally painfully stilted for send-up purposes, or whether she's just bad. However, on press night, Titmuss dealt professionally with forgetting a line, remaining so well in character while she asked Benedict for a prompt that it could almost have been written into the script.
The second act,
Elegy for a Lady, is very different, and we’re back in much more familiar Miller territory in a moving story about a man whose much younger lover is dying of cancer, and he connects with the shop assistant in a store where he's trying to find a suitable gift for the lady. Titmuss manages to convey some empathy and is more restrained in this situation. However, there's a feeling of simply going through the motions with no truth behind them. Suddenly sitting down and looking hurt in an overly dramatic way while her co-star tells a heart-felt tale of sorrow just doesn’t rung true - although, to be fair, she tries.
Titmuss is no match for Benedict, who manages to retain an air of realism throughout - particularly in the second act when he touchingly plays the grieving and confused lover. He even carries off the stereotypical cartoon-esque Bronx cop of the first act with aplomb and prevents proceedings from falling into mere farce.
Titmuss exhibits a glimpse of potential and, if acting is what she now really wants to do, some more training would stand her in good stead for a career.
- Caroline Ansdell
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