Thursday, 9 July 2015

Gina Bellman in "Orson's Shadow"

Thanks to Antony from London Meetups, we caught another brilliant play at the Southwark Playhouse.

This one was again inspired by true events surrounding Giants of Stage and Screen Orson Welles (John Hodgkinson), Sir/Baron Laurence Olivier (Adrian Lukis), Vivien Leigh (Gina Bellman), Dame Joan Plowright / Baroness Olivier (Louise Ford) and Kenneth Tynan (Edward Bennett). Although its more in the realm of speculative fact based fiction.

Set around 1960 in Dublin and then subsequently at the Royal Court Theatre, Hollywood giants Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier have been persuaded to work together for the first time - in a production of Eugène Ionesco’s masterpiece "Rhinoceros" - the inspired idea of legendary theatre critic Kenneth Tynan.

But with Olivier’s eccentric wife Vivien Leigh and girlfriend (later wife) Joan Plowright added to the volatile mix, legendary egos collide both on stage and off.

The play was nominated for Outstanding Play of the Year in the Lortel Awards on its New York debut.

While most theater & movie goers would know the main actors/directors in this play, Orson's Shadow gives us a peek "behind the scenes", so to speak.

Rather than the perception of the individual in popular culture and the media, we see their insecurities, their egos, their frailties... We get to see the "person behind the image"

The dialogues, insults and barbs flew thick and fast. If you are familiar with that era of film and stage, there's a much deeper level of understanding, but even if someone has never heard of any of these names before, the play can be enjoyed for what it is.

Even though the theater was hardly occupied today (because of the tube strike), the cast performed as though it was to a full house.

John Hodgkinson as Orson Welles was absolutely brilliant. and Claran O'Brien as Shawn was great comic relief. I was wondering why Gina Bellman looked so familiar as I have never watched "Coupling", I then realised that I have watched her in "Leverage"

A surprise bonus was suddenly coming face to face with Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) when buying a coffee at the bar during interval - who was in the audience :)

Picture Credits : 
Antony from London Meetups
Southwark Playhouse

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