Marilyn Monroe did not die alone…. at least not according to this cleverly constructed play about the last night of her life.
Goodbye Marilyn imagines that in those final moments, visions of the two famous men she married appeared at her bedside to provide comfort to the icon and bid her farewell.
Arthur Miller and Joe Di Maggio listen sympathetically to her expressions of love and regret, remember old times with her and occasionally clash with each other as the pill popping superstar prepares for her exit.
It’s a tender and moving curtain call for a character whose more scandalous moments have provided much of the fodder for countless other theatrical productions.
But this is a gentler, more affectionate approach and writer-director Michael Phillips provides dignified closure with his play for any devoted fans still mourning Monroe.
It’s just a shame that the acting doesn’t always live up to the writing. As Arthur Miller, Chris Karmiol distracts from the drama of his performance by repeatedly and too often taking off his glasses and putting them on again – I lost count after the 20th time. Adam Slemon as Joe Di Maggio and Melanie Cruz as Marilyn struggle to establish the chemistry of their characters and the title character is too often one note rather than mixing up the rhythms.
But these are all first night teething troubles which should easily be fixed over the course of the Los Angeles world premiere run, which concludes on October 12.
If you’re looking for a Marilyn play full of sex, scandal and the Kennedys then look elsewhere. But if a sympathetic portrayal of one of the 20th Century’s greatest stars is more your thing, this is the show for you.
GOODBYE MARILYN: A Love Letter
Written and Directed by Michael Phillips
At The Working Stage Theatre, 1516 N. Gardner, West Hollywood, CA 90046
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm until October 12
First cast: Melanie Cruz as Marilyn Monroe, Chris Karmiol as Arthur Miller & Adam Slemon as Joe Di Maggio
Second cast: Kalinda Gray as Marilyn Monroe, Darrell Philip as Arthur Miller & John E
Hunt as Joe Di Maggio
Producer – Angie Hansen
Associate Producers – Olivia Hernandez, Dorian Ovalle, Luke Marone, Nicole Wagner
Costumes – Jenny Moore
Sound Design – Lisa Fischel
Stage Manager – Erin Durkin
Branding & Marketing – DesignFish
Production Assistant – Esther Jacobson
Photo of Sandro Monetti by Dawn Bowery from the book California Dreaming: Brits in LA Book
Thespian Thoughts is a theatre review article on Actors Entertainment, a channel on the Actors Podcast Network, a Pepper Jay Production.