UP FOR GRABS
Wyndham's Theatre, London WC2
Opened 23 May, 2002

** Madonna puts her effort into acting at being an actress

Her character says, "I'm gonna have a lifestyle the whole world will envy" oh, Madge, has nobody ever told you you can overdo the irony?

Let's be honest: nobody really cares that this play is about a woman acting as selling agent for a Jackson Pollock painting, and what she and the prospective buyers have to undergo in the process. (It's not a very good play.) Nobody cares that Lawrence Boswell directs it in his recent style where brash entertainment is more important than thoughtfulness. What you want to know is, what's Madonna like in the main role?

The answer is: not very good either. Lacking technical skills (especially in her vocal delivery), she expends much more effort in looking as if she's doing acting than she does in actually getting inside the character. It's a detailed performance, but it's the wrong one. The few moments when she loosens up and is briefly playful form a stark contrast with her awkward silent-movie emotional gesturing most of the time.

And Madonna in this play? A piece about culture as commodity, about the skills of over-selling, starring the woman who pretty much invented the idea of marketing oneself as an icon, and with tickets to see her like gold dust? It doesn't make for a witty juxtaposition, but for a crass contradiction of everything the play tries to say.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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