Me Before Marilyn is the untold story of Norma Jean Baker. Caged Theatre Company recount her life from her troubled childhood, multiple marriages, dependence on men, and her transformation into the icon that was Marilyn Monroe, to the sequence of events that led to her unfortunately early death. Although she may have had a short life, trying to cover 36 years in 40 minutes proved to be too challenging a task. In trying to cover so much material the plot became confused and key events were merely skimmed over rather than providing the deep exposé that the show blurb implied.
The production relied heavily on the use of projection, through which they were able to portray Marilyn’s life in terms of action, whereas only dialogue was delivered by the actors themselves. Her marriage, her subsequent divorce, her modelling career were all beautifully captured in the film that only further served to indicate quite how flat and static the action was on stage. Dialogue reeled off by each character sat on a chair with little or no interaction with any other characters, making the audience long for the visual interest of the projector.
The concept for the play is certainly an interesting one, but for it to be the emotionally tumultuous and thought-provoking piece that they had intended, much more needed to be invested in it. The actors, almost without exception, told their story in a matter of fact, nearly monotone, manner that made their words lose any strength of conviction or dramatic quality. Lines were stumbled over, which was painfully obvious during extended soliloquies and inconsistent accents made some of the dialogue feel very laboured. Had they been given the chance to interact in small scenes the actors’ belief in their characters would have been strengthened, thus leading to more convincing and nuanced performances.