Hollywood: home to the fools who dream. Evie Edwards is not the first and certainly won’t be the last aspiring actress to fall for its charm and promise of stardom. This play critically examines the Hollywood dream and its power to simultaneously attract both the ambitious and the vulnerable. The show opens with Evie, played by the wonderful Joanne Hartstone, clinging on to the H of the Hollywood sign with the sound of traffic on the highway underneath, contemplating her life. How did she get to this point? This is the question this show seeks to explore.
A well-researched, poignant and revealing piece of theatre that shows the extent of Hartstone’s abilities as a writer, singer and actress.
Set in 1949 this play tells the story of this fictional young aspiring actress’s life. In typical Hollywood fashion, through the misfortune of a lonely and difficult childhood a dreamer is born. Growing up in a small town in Missouri, Evie looks to icons like Jean Harlow and Judy Garland for escapism and guidance. This play takes us on a political and historical journey of the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Depression, World War 2, Pearl Harbour and the presidencies of Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
Hartstone gives a superb and sympathetic performance portraying the naivety, eccentricity and vulnerability of Evie. She uses humour to deal with a lot of difficult topics. She delivers a number of excellent lines including ‘I wrote my name down so the newspapers would spell it right’ even in her darkest of moments. As the play progresses Evie begins to unravel some of Hollywood’s ugly truths that show the ruthlessness of the industry. She develops a fascination with the death of her icon Jean Harlow who died of kidney failure at the age of 26, possibly caused by the toxic substances she had to use to bleach her hair. She is also heartbroken to uncover that Judy Garland was forced to take appetite suppressants and after a spell in a sanatorium was made to come straight back to work to finish a movie. It is an industry that only loves you when you’re on top.
This play was inspired by the true story of actress Peg Entwhistle who tragically jumped from the Hollywood sign in 1932. This is a well-researched, poignant and revealing piece of theatre that shows the extent of Hartstone’s abilities as a writer, singer and actress.