Sunday 5 May 2024

Making Marilyn - Review

Horatio’s Bar, Brighton


Written by Julie Burchill & Dan Raven
Directed by Carole Todd

Making Marilyn that played for three nights at the Brighton Fringe this week, is the fusion of some remarkable writing combined with one of the more outstanding performances to have been seen this year.

Suzie Kennedy is Marilyn Monroe in Julie Burchill and Dan Raven’s play that gives a voice to one of the most enigmatic women of the 20th century.

The plot projects Marilyn into a dialogue set in the modern era and through Burchill’s incisive analysis, offers us the chance to hear Monroe give her take on her tragically short life, reflecting on her achievements and her experience of exploitation. Set against what the #MeToo movement has highlighted about Hollywood, Monroe’s words offer much to contemplate - and Kennedy’s performance in both sound and appearance, is astonishing. As the star remarks that she was “better at being a personality than a person” there is much to reflect upon, and her coruscating critique of Elton John’s Candle In The Wind is brilliant.

The play’s underlying vehicle however is creaky. Two time-travellers from 2024 (Josh and Candy, played by Luke O’Dell and Kirsty Brewster-Brown) are sent back to the 1960s to collect a sample of Monroe’s DNA to bring back to the future so that replicant Marilyns can be cloned for today’s rich and powerful. Candy is perhaps the more interesting of the pair with Josh’s character proving ham-fisted, weighed down with too many clumsy references to his onanistic adulation of Monroe.

Think H.G.Wells meets Back To The Future, combined with The Boys From Brazil but lacking that trio’s carefully crafted approach to science fiction. The evening offers an overly ambitious storyline that ultimately defies credibility, letting our suspended disbelief crash to the floor as the narrative cries out for the nuclear-powered intensity of Doc Brown’s flux capacitor.

The play needs a lot of work. But Burchill and Raven’s interpretation of Monroe is little short of genius and in Suzie Kennedy’s voicing of the star, all three have truly been making Marilyn.

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