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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

Instant Classics and Emanuela Craveri present

 

It's All True

 

by Jason Sherman

 

Director – David Cottis

 

Designer – Andy Robinson

 

Lighting Designer – Mathew Breslin

 

Songs by Dan Horsburgh

 

Additional music composed and played by Jonathan Cohen

 

White Bear Theatre
 
14 August – 18 September 2012

 

Orson Welles (Edward Elgood) is an established genius, famed for his lauded productions of Dr. Faustus and Macbeth, and apparently ready to branch into political opera with The Cradle Will Rock, written by Marc Blitzstein (Ian Mairs). All seems optimistic until castings for the female lead wind up with the "least worst" applicant being chosen and the US Government, the producers of the show, lock up the theatre and make off with the props. It's All True follows the cast and crew of this left-wing opera as they respond to the challenges imposed by the Works Progress Administration and the public and media interest generated by their resolution that the show must, and will, go on somewhere.

It's All True opens with a cleverly constructed argument scripted in a layered and fast-paced manner. Opening scene nerves mean that this initial piece, thick with important utterances and interruptions, is delivered somewhat unsteadily, but as the actors warm into their characters and to each other, the wealth of argumentative moments begin to flow with more confidence. Invisible props, everything from lost earrings to oysters, are handled with care and attention, leaving the small stage free from everything but some chairs and a pair of constantly buzzing telephones. This is doubly significant as it transpires that The Cradle Will Rock will have to be played in the absence of any props whatsoever.

The subject matter is heavy in parts, leaden with frustrated rebellion and the determination to see the show come off against the odds. This is emphasised most clearly by the repeated scene in which Olive (Loriel Medynski) cannot convince as a character bereft of love because she is in love and cannot contemplate otherwise. This scene is tiresomely repeated until Welles and Blitzstein come up with a manipulative scheme to force her to identify with her character. Her relationship with fellow actor Howard (Robert Durbin) is a focal point for a time and we see some snippets of sweet on-stage chemistry between the two.

Light relief is at hand in Welles' long-suffering, highly engaging wife Virginia (Elizabeth Guterbock), who is truly comical in her very own straight-talking, drink swilling way. Ghost scenes in which Marc Blitzstein's deceased wife Eva (also Loriel Medynski) visits him in her dressing gown are frequent, tying current events to his sad past and offering a glimpse at his motivations. Edward Elgood as Welles balances an interesting mix of intensity, arrogance and creative flair well. Jonathan Cohen at the piano provides a consistent and crucial backdrop to events.

It's All True is very much focused on the relationships between writer, director, actors and their associates in the build-up to this famous debacle which notoriously ended in the opera being performed by the actors from their seats in the auditorium and Marc Blitzstein on stage playing piano himself. While at The White Bear, meetings between politics and art and creator and big-shot director are explored, but the climax is purported to be Olive's eventual mastery of her much practiced depiction of a dejected Moll.

 
Tickets: £14 (£10 Conc.)
Box Office: 08444 771 000
White Bear Theatre
138 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4DJ
http://www.whitebeartheatre.co.uk
 

 

 

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