Finishing the Picture, Finborough London, 3***: William Russell



by Arthur Miller.


The Finborough theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED to 7 July2018

Tues- Sun 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.

Runs 1 hr 55 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 01223 357 851.

Review: William Russell 19 June.


Paying the price of fame and settling scores

For his last play written in 2004 Arthur Miller returned to his marriage to Marilyn Monroe about which he had written in After the Fall in 1964, four years after it ended. In that play the writer husband and the tortured film star appear, but in Finishing the Picture we never see Kitty, the star holed up high on drugs in her bedroom while the director, producer and crew wait and wait, cajoling, bullying and despairing as closure of the production threatens.

Set in a Reno hotel in 1960 Miller paints a devastating picture of how the film industry could exploit and destroy those rare women who are stars – the vulgar cinematographer sums it up as having “skin that lights up” on camera – and “the ass.”

If ever there was a star abused and destroyed by Hollywood it was Monroe and not seeing Kitty presents a problem although it does mean the actress concerned does not have to do one of those makeup transformations which sometimes convince that you are looking at Marilyn. As it is we get the fraught producer new to the business – he inherited the film in a takeover – the great director who gave Kitty her first break, her devoted secretary, the estranged husband screen writer, and – best of all – her coach and guru Flora and Jerome Fassinger based firmly on Lee and Paula Strasberg who almost certainly did nothing to help the fragile Monroe. Scores are patently being settled.

They are shown in all their pretentious glory and Nicky Goldie and Tony Wredden have the time of their lives as the pretentious, vain and exploitative pair.

In act one the film makers meet, discuss the problems they face and reveal how callous they can be when finishing the picture is all that matters. In act two they confront the unseen and silent bed bound star in her bedroom. It is all a little stilted, but that is probably Miller’s fault in the way he chose to construct the play, and the fact remains it deserves to be seen. Watch it and weep for those destroyed by the Hollywood star system, beings unable understand why they are loved and what it is that made them what they are, and how to carry on living.

Edna Meyers: Rachel Handshaw.

Philip Oschner: Oliver Le Sueur.

Derek Clemson: Stephen Billington.

Flora Fassinger: Nicky Goldie.

Terry Case: Patrick Bailey.

Paul: Jeremy Drakes.

Jerome Fassinger: Tony Wredden.

Director: Phil Wilmott,

Set Designer: Isabella Van Braeckel.

Costume Designer: Penn O’Gara.

Lighting Designer: Rachel Sampley.

Sound Designer: Nicola Chang.


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