In the tiny Warren theatre in the basement at Zoo Roxy, the stage is bare except for a pair of sparkling high heels and a platinum blonde wig on the floor. The curtains at the back flap open suddenly and a petite young girl in raincoat and headscarf rushes in, as if late for an appointment. Marilyn Monroe frequently kept the Studio waiting.
Removing her coat, she’s wearing tight black slacks and a shimmering gold blouse, her hair, a dark chestnut brown. Irina Diva presents a portrait of Marilyn in her own words taken from her last, very candid, interview, published in Life Magazine, on 17th August, 1962. (She died less than two weeks earlier on 5th August, aged just 36.)
Having divorced her third husband, and with health and film career problems, this interview gave her the chance to describe her life off screen. She had a solitary childhood when she enjoyed playing imaginative games and her foster mother sent her to the cinema. "I'd sit all day and way into the night. .. a little kid all alone .. I loved anything that moved up there.”
Standing alone on the stage, Ms Diva, with her clipped, precise Bulgarian-English accent, talks to us (as if we were the interviewer), revealing a glimpse of the insecure girl behind the mask, the makeup and bleached hair. She also explains her serious, analytical approach to the job of acting.
“An actor is not a machine, no matter how much they want to say you are. Like any creative human being, I would like a bit more control so that it would be a little easier for me when the director says, 'One tear, right now,' that one tear would pop out.”
And then we watch as her Dresser transforms her into the actress with a tight corset, shoes, lipstick, blonde wig. Marilyn Monroe is ready for her close up, just like the famous Warhol screenprint.
Irina Diva performs this absorbing one woman show in a quiet manner which does not try to impersonate the predictable, glamorous superstar. This premiere play is just 30 minutes; it could perhaps be elaborated with more autobiographical text and songs to create a unique, fresh look at the public and private persona of this iconic actress.
(N.B. Irina Diva deserves praise for a cool, controlled performance despite the intrusion of loud rock music resonating from the Bar next door. This is not the ideal venue for such an intimate performance.)
Till 21 August