Critical Acclaim for Dublin’s ‘Misfits’

Reviews are in for Annie Ryan’s recent production of The Misfits at the Dublin Theatre Festival. It’s unclear as yet whether a full run will follow, so watch this space!

“Roslyn (Aobhínn McGinnity), first played by Monroe, is stronger, more worldly, and more sardonic than the original, and, crucially, she is a brunette, instantly drawing a distinction with Monroe … The play suffers from the same problems Miller’s original novella and screenplay did; it is an awkward narrative that constantly changes tone, and is eventually unclear in what it wanted to say. This production, though, one of the most anticipated of the Dublin Theatre Festival, does not disappoint.” – Ciarán Leinster, Reviews Hub

“If there appears to be a lack of nuance in the characters, it’s one that has been forced on them by their circumstances. It’s a strength of Miller’s writing that he is still able to reveal a humanity in the characters … Aoibhinn McGinnity’s Roslyn and Úna Kavanagh’s Isabelle hold the keys, even if in the latter case it’s just the key to the bar, both just as much misfits to the power dynamic of a very male-centred world.” -Noel  Megahey, The Digital Fix

“Stage-plays migrate into movies frequently, often with great success; the traffic is lighter in the other direction. Some of the technical challenges are here very well met by movement director Justine Cooper; the lassoing of the mustang is effective, complete with the character of Isabelle embodying the struggling horse.

All five performances are first-rate, each actor taking plenty of risks. This is a thoroughly enjoyable dramatic probe into what’s biting the American male; it ends on a profound and optimistic note.” – Irish Independent

“While Roslyn stirs their passions, she is not the flaky sex object that a visibly unhappy Marilyn Monroe played in her final movie. She instead becomes the means of exposing the men’s rootlessness, insecurity and uncertain sense of self. Miller may have seen himself as a misfit in the sense of being a political malcontent, but Ryan’s version reminds us that at the heart of the story is a wider crisis in masculinity.” – Michael Billington, The Guardian

Remembering ‘Marilyn! The Musical’

Must Close Saturday: The Decline and Fall Of The British Musical Flop, a new book by Adrian Wright, covers the short-lived 1983 show, Marilyn!  The Musical. It failed to win over critics and closed after 156 performances, but its talented star, Stephanie Lawrence, won critical acclaim and that year’s Best Actress award from the Variety Club of Great Britain, as well as a nomination for the Society of West End Theatre awards (now known as the Laurence Olivier awards.)

“The show was intended as a tribute to another popular icon who died young, but it failed to capture the public imagination,” Michael Billington wrote in The Guardian. “The one person who emerged with credit was Stephanie Lawrence. She not only captured the externals of Marilyn Monroe – the wiggle, the walk, the passionate pout, the vocal breathiness – but conveyed the carmined innocence and soft vulnerability within. It should have been her passport to fame but the show failed to live up to its star.”

Her performance is fondly remembered by Monroe fans, and in 1995, she released an album, Marilyn: The Legend, featuring songs from the musical as well as covers of Monroe tracks. Stephanie, who also starred in more successful musicals including Evita, Starlight Express and Blood Brothers and acted on film and television, died suddenly in 2000. Michael Billington described her as “an actress of rare glamour” and “a pillar of British musical theatre”, who nonetheless “never fully achieved the 40-carat stardom that came to her no-more talented peers.”