The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe, Roe Valley Arts centre, 7 February 2014

goodbye norma jeane

Florentyna Syperek (age 16), one of our Youth Arts Correspondents reviews The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe which was staged at our venue on 8 February by Dyad Productions.

What do you know about the real Marilyn Monroe?

We all remember the famous scene of Marilyn in Travilla’s white dress, the skirt blown up by the air. We all recognise her legendary blond hair. We even know she wore Chanel No. 5! Still an icon after over 50 years since her tragic death in 1962, there still remains a thick fog of mystery wrapped around one of the most famous movie stars of the 20th century. In Dyad Productions’ “The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe”, writer and director Elton Townend Jones sets out to uncover her fascinating story and show not Marilyn’s final hours, but Norma Jeane’s.

As the audience entered the Danny Boy Auditorium, the stage was an artistic mess – books and magazines, unopened shopping bags and high-heeled shoes covering the floor, a collection of expensive perfume bottles overcrowding the nightstand… And on a lonely island that was a bed lay Marilyn herself, sleeping. As it often is with long anticipated shows, there was a soft buzz of excitement creeping in, everyone awaiting the beginning of the performance.

Marilyn is awoken by the ringing of the telephone. The phone rings again a number of times throughout the play, making her both hopeful and hysterical. However, the mysterious caller’s identity is never revealed, leaving us wondering.

When not interrupted by the insistent ringing, the blond icon tells her life story, inviting the audience to revisit her peculiar past. It’s all there – her husbands, loves, health problems and fears. Continuously popping pills as she presses further into her history, both shimmering moments of success and dark memories are recalled and relived, people and anecdotes remembered. It is in those flashbacks that Lizzie Wort excels as an actress, exploring all aspects of Monroe’s character, while the imitations add colour to the narrative.

Marilyn’s tale intensifies as we approach the end, perhaps foreshadowing her tragic death. The climax of the play is reached when the star recalls a certain point of her unhappy childhood – the memory of being sexually abused. Well written and well acted, this was a scene that left the whole auditorium silent and deep in thought, breath squeezed out of everyone’s lungs by the intensity of emotions.

We are left with the lasting impression of Marilyn falling back onto her unmade bed. The audience is aware of the fact that it is probably the last time, but her last words are not ones of someone who has given up. In this production Monroe’s death really is unremarkable – it’s Norma Jeane’s life and rise to fame that is extraordinary.

With a startling ability to connect with the audience, “The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe” is an intensely emotional and enthralling experience. The powerful performance from Lizzie Wort as Monroe draws us into the story of the woman hidden behind the blond hair and red lipstick, allowing us a glimpse not into the mind of Marilyn, but Norma Jeane, torn between the glamour of stardom and problems of real life. Brilliantly written and cleverly complemented by the subtle use of sound and light, this is a show that takes your breath away and leaves you in awe. Yet again, Dyad Productions fail to disappoint!

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This entry was posted on February 18th, 2014 at 11:23 am by Desima

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