Hit and Miss: Marilyn’s Life Restaged in the UK

Two new Marilyn-inspired plays are currently being staged in the UK, earning very different reviews. Lizzie Freeborn’s Hot Lips and Cold War, now playing at the London Theatre Workshop, imagines Jackie Kennedy asking a naive White House intern to spy on her husband and Marilyn, and is roundly panned by The Upcoming‘s Mersa Auda.

“The far-fetched fictional narrative, mixed with an underwhelming representation of real-life characters, makes the piece not only disappointing, but also potentially detrimental in the way it recycles stereotypes. Marilyn is a two-dimensional bombshell and Kennedy a full-time womaniser, and some dialogues lack believability to the point of becoming unintentionally humorous (such as the moment Marilyn proclaims in front of a group of White House staff that she hopes to have a private encounter with Kennedy following the public ceremony they are both attending).”

Meanwhile, Darren Haywood’s The Late Marilyn Monroe, staged last week at the Blue Orange Theatre in Birmingham, takes the all-too-familiar format of showing Marilyn (played by Tania Staite), alone with her thoughts on the night of her death. Fortunately, this production got a warmer response from Selwyn Knight at Reviews Hub.

“Haywood clearly has affection for Monroe and has taken time to research her life and last hours thoroughly to provide a moving account; however, it feels a work in progress. Some of the scenes are repetitive and could use some pruning to tighten up the narrative. Nevertheless,¬†The Late Marilyn Monroe¬†does shine some light on how her life might well have ended.”