The misfits

Making Marilyn

By Ken Cameron
Directed and designed by Robin A. Paterson
The Bridge Theatre Company (/www.thebridgetheatrecompany.com)
Theatre 54
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Byrne Harrison

Imagine being a lonely 15-year-old boy and being offered the chance to meet Marilyn Monroe. Now imagine becoming her friend. And later, her lover. Is there anything you wouldnít do for her? Any promise you wouldnít make?

Ken Cameronís Making Marilyn is built around the aforementioned premise. Scout (Patrick Costello) is a lonely boy living with his Mom (Ashlie Atkinson) and longing in his adolescent way for Marilyn Monroe (also played by Atkinson). When Monroe comes to Banff to film River of No Return, a chance encounter with Scout leads to an affair. Unlike in a typical memory play, Scout not only jumps between his summer with Marilyn, a traumatic moment from his childhood, and his encounter with a Policeman (Robin Mervin) on a lonely California highway right after Marilynís death, but he leaps, like Vonnegutís Billy Pilgrim, into those times, not merely remembering them. Scout takes his knowledge of future events with him as he attempts to save Marilyn from her fate, even though he seems doomed to repeat each moment as well.

Ashlie Atkinson was certainly the star of this show; she demanded attention and not just because of her curvy appeal.. Both as Marilyn and Mom, she radiated a certain cunning charm; both women knew how to use their bodies to get what they wanted and needed out of life. While Marilyn was less rough than Mom and certainly less world-weary, it was easy to see that they were younger and older versions of each other.

Scout, as played by Costello, was a typical teen: sulky, shy, angry, eager, confused, certain, and above all loyal. Driven by love, he was willing to do anything for Marilyn, his one and only. Costello captured Scoutís innocence and creepy obsessiveness. His awkward mannerisms while playing 15-year-old Scout, rubbing his pants, twitching his head and shifting his gaze, gave him a certain goofy charm, but losing these affectations while playing the 22-year-old Scout gave Scoutís interactions with the Policeman a menacing quality that paid off at the end of the scene.

While the play and the acting were good, the long, narrow space made the staging of the show awkward, though director Robin Paterson utilized the space to great effect. The set pieces, free-standing and rotating flats that were moved into place by the actors, were a distraction. Also distracting was having the actors onstage when the house opened. While it helped establish a mood, it also kept people from getting to half of the seating until one side of the house filled completely, forcing people to cross the stage to find seats.

Though some of the dialog was a little stilted, and a few of the scenes seemed to be too long or not integral to the plot, this was a strong production of a challenging piece of theatre.

Making Marilyn also featured Devin Scott and Reyna De Courcy.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Set: 0
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2005 Byrne Harrison