Fifty years after the death of Marilyn Monroe and public fascination with her is as strong as ever. Only a fortnight ago another Monroe story found its way into the newspapers - Marilyn phoned Jackie Kennedy to confess her affair with JFK, apparently. Media scrutiny plagued the starlet during her life and refuses to dissipate after her death. The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe imagines her final hour in this world, reflecting on ‘the real Monroe’ - her life, loves, childhood and the extraordinary creation of a star.
Lizzie Wort gives a fantastic performance as Monroe, weaving the intricacies of her personality together magnificently: her intelligence, strength and pragmatism balanced with the exhaustion of being the subject of constant criticism, rumours and an image that she couldn’t shake. The stuttering and constant pill-popping combine with a clothes strewn set to portray the mental strain of that final period of her life and remind us of the tragic end awaiting her.
Elton Townend Jones has produced a very thought provoking and thoroughly researched production, one that successfully challenges the common perception of Marilyn, so heavily shaped by the media, and educates them on the depth to her character - her avid quest to educate herself, and her own concern with the image Fox had created for her. At one point the character reflects on her husband’s disappointment with her, there was a gap between who they thought they had married and who she turned out to be, ‘they couldn’t see past the definitive Monroe’, she muses. This production will make you realise that perhaps you couldn’t either.
The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe is a great production: well written and well-acted. It is an absolute must for anyone interested in Monroe and for the uninitiated - not only for the production quality, but for the moment of realization you feel at the end when you recognise how easily we accept the media’s portrayal of another human being and how wrong or unfair that could be.