No Fear by Linda Marlowe and others. Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton Street, London N1 to 16 October 2021. 4****. William Russell.

The story of her life, more or less, as told by a daring old woman on the flying trapeze proves to be quite a saga. Linda Marlowe, who has been many things in her long career from innocent ingénue, Steven Berkoff’s leading lady, Alzheimer victim Sylvie Carter in East Enders, one of the rock chick band the Sadista Sisters, four times married, mother, and even a drug runner comes up with the most unusual one woman show ever. This fabulous evening starts with the oldest tightrope walker in the world aged 100, a ravishing snow white blonde in a ballet dress all crimson net, miming doing so on the Hoxton Hall stage. But who can this be?
It is, of course, Marlowe who whips off the finery, reveals a head of tawny locks, and pulls on some slick black clothes before launching into the story of her life – or as much of it as she can remember, sometimes with the aid of a script possibly because not all of it was written by her and some of it she did not live.
At one point she stopped the show to go and look for her spectacles which she had left in the dressing room. At another she cadged a bottle of water off someone in the audience as her throat was getting dry. The stories are funny, sad, and beautifully delivered as she discusses abortions, sex, face lifts, how she met Marilyn Monroe and life with actor Bill Marlowe whose first wife she was. Two more Mrs Marlowe followed, the second being the actress Catherine Schell – they became firm friends but not of Mrs M No 3. As for husbands, Linda herself had four, the last being one of convenience to ensure she could work in the United States. if she forgets, she improvises, declaring at one point – “To hell with the dialogue.”
To top it all at the end aged 81 she trots into the wings, lowers a trapeze and takes to the air doing things on it that would be remarkable enough in themselves but for someone of her age are breathtaking. There is no safety net, just a couple of matresses. But, as she said, how should she end this story? “Gracefully? No Fear!”

Cast – Linda Marlowe
Director: Gavin Marshal.
Writers: Gavin Marshal, Josie Lawrence, David Benson.
Trapeze trainer: Genevieve Monastesse.
Photograph: Eric Richard.

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