Marcy Lafferty’s wonderful one-woman play is a
biography of Vivien Leigh, largely using her own words, presented in the
form of a dream-like press conference at which she recalls and relives the
most significant moments of her life. Lafferty herself plays Leigh and
does an excellent job at suggesting her energy, her passion and her
vulnerability – and Denise Esposito’s make-up gives her an uncanny
resemblance to the screen legend. The play charts Leigh’s story from her
birth in India in 1913, through her first marriage to barrister Leigh
Holman, her early stage successes, her life with Larry Olivier, her famous
screen roles and her increasingly severe manic depression and ill health.
(The play is set in 1960, seven years before her death.) There are some
hugely entertaining anecdotal sequences along the way concerning the
filming of Gone With The Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire, and the
characters of Brando, David O Selznick and George Cukor are conjured up in
a few deft strokes.
Theatrically there are no twists; once the
chronological “press conference with flashback” format is established, it
isn’t changed. But the material is so engrossing and the performance so
compelling, it all works beautifully.