Edinburgh Festival: The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe (3 stars)

Who was the woman behind the icon? How did she die? These are just two of the many questions that surround Marilyn Monroe. Writer and director Elton Townend Jones attempts to answer these by imagining what she would say to us, in that cluttered bedroom made famous by a police photograph, the hour before her death. Through a vivacious but honest performance from Lizzie Wort, we meet someone who, despite being full of life, has been worn down by years of criticism; who is angry at being perpetually portrayed as a dumb blonde and at the exploitation that has accompanied this.

The text is based on a variety of anecdotes and sources but Townend Jones says in the programme: “The woman herself is capable of lying. And so is her writer,” which makes it hard to know what’s true. Parts are overwritten and feel more suited to a biography than the stage. But we get the essence of a person who was one of us before becoming a star and whose talent has always been overshadowed by her personal life and death.

Written for The Scotsman

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