Midweek

"Vivien Leigh: The Last Press Conference is, frankly,
my dears, worth giving a damn about."

Monday 10th September, 2001
Received 3 stars (*** is Ab Fab)

Marcy Lafferty's one woman show, Vivien Leigh: the Last Press Conference, traces the career of Leigh from desperate 18-year-old wannabe to her legendary role as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind and marriage to Laurence Olivier. There then followed a descent into ill health with TB, manic depression fuelled by the public's obsession with Scarlett and a split with Olivier. Lafferty wrote the show herself and clad in a purple suit, she is convincingly precious as the screen icon, one minute hoisting up her skirt as she describes various post-Larry seductions and then bringing real pathos to her descriptions of her two miscarriages, which she sees as a judgement on Larry and herself for breaking up their first marriages to be together. Her love of both "Larry boy" and the stage shine through and it's a performance of some charm and humour. She details the Hollywood intrigues on the set of Gone With The Wind, pointedly pretends to forget Greta Garbo's name, mutters "fiddledy fuck!" and refers to Joan Plowright, Olivier's new lover, as "Joan Blowright". Her final sadness is convincingly summed up by her five stages of an actress's life: "Who is Vivien Leigh? Get me Vivien Leigh. Get me a Vivien Leigh. Get me a young Vivien Leigh. Who is Vivien Leigh?"

For the uninitiated the sheer volume of biographical detail might be a little intimidating, and the US-born Lafferty is occasionally more convincing with her American accents than Leigh's plumy tones, but these are only minor quibbles. For those with an interest in Hollywood icons, Vivien Leigh is, frankly, my dears, worth giving a damn about.

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