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 The TheatreguideLondon Review


Marilyn
Apollo Theatre June 2009

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot. You can say that again. Marilyn Monroe - lips pouting, hips wiggling, and her voice husky - is the symbol of the eternal feminine myth, a photographer's delight. She is the dumb blonde par excellence, an irresistible combination of the erotic and the vulnerable.

The iconic image of her skirt blowing up to her face as she stands on a subway grate is unforgettable. Were she alive today she would be 83. She died in 1962 when she was 36.

Her fame increases with the years. Her life has been the subject of endless books, films, plays and songs. So why not a ballet? A dance drama obviously has possibilities. There was a time when choreographer Peter Schaufuss concentrated on the classics. Nowadays he concentrates on doncicals a word he has coined to describe his dance musical celebrations of Elvis Presley, Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

It was only a matter of time before he got round to Marilyn Monroe. Nobody, I trust, will be going for the choreography. Or if they do, they are going to be in for a big disappointment. Much of the performance is an unintentional hoot.

Dara Deakin doesn't look like Monroe. She could be any diva in a blonde wig. Joe DiMaggio, the national baseball hero Marilyn married, looks like a camp member of the chorus from Damn Yankees.

Lee Strasberg is just a pair of glasses and what goes on in his Actors Studio is absurd. Arthur Miller is also a pair of glasses, but more galumphing, perhaps to show he is a radical intellectual playwright. His marriage with Marilyn is screwball comedy and their break-up (with a prominent suitcase) is silent movie melodrama. I felt I was watching a Forbidden Broadway spoof.

Marilyn is vulgar kitsch, but then, let's face it, you can't get kitschier than Monroe herself singing Happy Birthday, Mr. President in the White House, whilst wearing practically nothing.

Ticket prices have been slashed from over 40 to under 20.

Robert Tanitch

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Review - Marilyn - Apollo 2009