Show Notes by Felix Gonzalez
Martha Ghio and Michael Curcio bookended a refreshing look on Joanne De Simone’s take on what happens when the icon that was Ms. Marilyn Monroe. The play removes a bit of the glamour off the “glamour girl” while giving you insight into some of the influences and people that molded her life and career.
The play reveals nuances and views about not just Marilyn Monroe but the story of Norma Jeane. From the father figure she never had in life but did in death to the prince of Camelot whose power she coveted as much as the man. Even the casual fan will feel like they learned something about the infamous starlet.
Joanne de Simone’s thoroughly poetic dialogue was always beautiful to hear, though there were times when the dialogue about her disbelief at being dead or desire to ignore the truth she kept having to face with each person from her past felt unnecessary. However, that was made up for by the content and interpretations of Bobby Kennedy and Paula Strasberg whose characters were the highlights of the ensemble.
The Play’s The Thing
This is a new feature in OuterStage spotlight the play as an entity other than performance by Bob Greene
Norma Jeane, Enlightened from its title to its American tragedy-style finish gave us the grand old days of playwrighting. Enigmatic locales, familiar characters played unfamiliarly, wit, intellect, depth, even spirituality and philosophy thrown in. It was a refreshing change from the usual one trick pony plays that are churned out nowadays in the hopes someone will film it.
Joanne de Simone gave us a play in the style of the early days of surrealism. We meet an every-woman and join her on a journey through her life in chapters – each chapter being another character from history. What makes this play so alluring is that we meet famous people to the point of being historic but we see them as we normally don’t. Imagine a film about J. Edgar Hoover or John Kennedy in the 70s and one today and you have de Simone’s concept.
Here’s a person we think we know but here’s the truth. Aside from Norma Jeane, this scheme gives a Kennedy in confession, a self-depravating Tyrone Power, a melancholy Paula Strasberg, an uncomfortable Arthur Miller, and a brilliant interpretation of Bobby Kennedy as a child, played with talent beyond his years by Michael Curcio. Most engrossing.
I am told that Manhattan Rep will be presenting another her pieces. I just might go.