The Marilyn Conspiracy

Vicki McKellar and Guy Masterson
Theatre Tours International
Assembly George Square Studios
to

Nobody could accuse Guy Masterson of shirking. To start with, he is starring in A Christmas Carol and producing two cod-Shakespeare plays across town.

His major project for 2018 was always going to be co-writing and directing The Marilyn Conspiracy. However, he did not additionally expect to be replacing an actor who had fallen by the wayside at the beginning of the run. Pleasingly, the writer / director / actor was off the book halfway through the festival and nobody would have realised that he had not been fully rehearsed into his role.

Writers love conspiracy theories but then so do theatregoers. We all know that Marilyn Monroe died far too early, having taken an overdose in a lonely, distraught state. Well, we did.

The writers of this large-scale (for Edinburgh) play believe they have discovered that the reason for a six-hour delay in notifying the authorities of the actress's demise might have been far more sinister than anyone had previously imagined.

Amidst rather too much ranting and shouting, it quickly becomes clear that British actor Peter Lawford, a brother-in-law of the Kennedys played in this production by Oliver Farnworth, knows far more than he should about the circumstances and has what appears to be a vested interest in a cover-up.

Constantly goaded by the deceased star's close friend Pat Newcomb, played by Susie Amy, the actor is eventually forced to make what almost amounts to a confession, although his main motivation was to protect a couple of high-profile characters from accusations of complicity in what might have been a murder investigation.

If this all sounds vague, that is a compliment to the writer of this review. It would be far too easy to reveal the identities of the purported murderers, which would spoil the experience of anyone intending to see this Edinburgh show or, if the producers have their way, a national tour that might end with a long West End run.

Whether the theory is a close approximation to reality or hokum is something for the historians to debate. While this version is cut down from the original and contains rather more irate shouting than some might find comfortable, it is intriguing and could set tongues wagging.

Philip Fisher