GOSSIP FROM HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN ERA
By Narelle Wood
With the Oscars just around the corner it seems a very appropriate time for some gleeful gossip from the back lot of MGM studios.
Understudied is an improvised show, so no nightly gossip will be the same. Our cast of characters – the carpenter and also patient in bed no. 3, Frank (Karl McConnell); the professional stand-in, Muriel Longford (Jenny Lovell); and Mr O’Malley’s unacknowledged daughter Marzipan (Anna Razenbrick) – are hiding out in an unused room escaping the fakery and abnormality of the MGM studio lot. While they pass the time away there is chatter of Clark Gable’s bad breath, Frank Sinatra’s ability to communicate with just one look, and the trouble brewing between Bogie and Bacall.
The show’s creator, Renzenbrick, is gorgeous as Marzipan O’Malley. There’s a wide-eyed naivety in her character that makes her dreams of a Gone with the Wind sequel, Even More Wind, seem almost plausible; that is until Tara is turned into a goat farm. There was a lot of chemistry on stage with the combination of McConnell, Razenbrick and Lovell; so much so that the improvisation seemed more like natural conversation than story telling on the fly.
As with any impro, at least ones I’ve seen, the sets and props are scarce, but it is amazing what you can do with three chairs, continuously hungry chickens, and a little bit of imagination. The one additional element that tied the whole show together was the use of the Gone with the Wind soundtrack; it provided the perfect daydreaming music for our cast of characters to think about what their futures in the movie industry holds.
Understudied: Tales from the Hollywood Back Lot is a unique glimpse into the behind the scenes of Hollywood’s Golden Era. It’s fun, frivolous and possibly even touches on some truths.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: 8.30pm until Sunday 28th
Tickets: Full $32| Conc $28