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The Marilyn Conspiracy review at Assembly, Edinburgh – ‘under-developed drama that blurs fact and fiction’

Within only a few years of Marilyn Monroe’s death, conspiracy theories began to evolve. Her links with mafia figures were well known, as was her association with the Kennedy family. But behind the image of an internationally acclaimed sex symbol there was a troubled soul, who suffered from mental health issues.

This new play by Vicki McKellar and Guy Masterson imagines the period between Monroe’s death and the arrival of the police at her home several hours later. While the official verdict was probable suicide, the writers draw on facts to create a murder scenario laid squarely at the feet of Bobby Kennedy, with actor and Kennedy’s brother-in-law Peter Lawford sent to aggressively wrangle a cover-up.

Facts aside, McKellar and Masterson’s play unravels as a bit of a one-note shouting match. The frantic tone and fact-pounding lack dramatic finesse and, despite Lawford’s guilt in this scenario, his character lacks sufficient menace to extract a lifetime of silence from doctors, friends and assorted associates.

It’s a stifling play and despite some enthusiastic tub-thumping from Oliver Farnsworth as Lawford, there’s very little room for character development. Sally Mortemore at least manages to invest some quiet dignity into housekeeper Eunice Murray, the only material witness in a case already assigned to the history books.

Verdict
Stifling, under-developed drama that blurs fact and fiction

Production Information

Production
The Marilyn Conspiracy
Venue
Assembly
City
Edinburgh
Starts
August 2, 2018
Ends
August 27, 2018
Authors
Vicki McKellar, Guy Masterson
Director
Guy Masterson
Cast includes
Susie Amy, Oliver Farnsworth, Vicki McKellar, Martin Rossen, Angela Bull, Sally Mortemore, Guy Masterson
Producer
Guy Masterson, Theatre Tours International Limited
Running time
1hr 20mins