Marilyn Monroe was a world famous sex symbol and one of Hollywood’s top movie stars in the 1950s, and nearly 55 years after her death, she remains a major cultural icon.
Barbara Schweitzer’s MM is a surreal psychodrama that takes place inside Monroe’s mind in the moments following a drug overdose on the night of August 4, 1962.
Meg Sullivan plays Marilyn, who is sweet, sexy and emotionally fragile. Marilyn becomes friends with Frankenstein (Derek Corriveau), whom she nicknames ‘Frankie.’ The two bond over their unhappy childhoods and find solace in each other’s company. Marilyn notes she is as much of a creation as the monster. In fact, the girl named Norma Jeane spent most of her childhood being shuffled from one foster home to another. She was discovered while doing modeling work and became a superstar.
The most powerful moments in the show are Marilyn’s interactions with a sleazy movie studio executive (well-played by Brien Lang) who verbally abuses her, and her second husband Joe DiMaggio (Lang), who is extremely controlling and possessive.
Sullivan is mesmerizing to watch and allows us to see the pain beneath Marilyn’s sunny exterior. It is an excellent performance.
Corriveau powerfully conveys Frankenstein’s anguish and desire to be loved. The play theorizes Marilyn and the monster are two halves of the same person – creatures manufactured by Hollywood.
What doesn’t work as well are Marilyn’s encounters with Albert Einstein (Nicole Maynard), who wears roller skates and at one point, bunny slippers. These moments are amusing, but they don’t add much to the story.
Like many entertainers, Marilyn Monroe’s main focus in life was to be loved. Sadly, she never seemed to find what she was looking for. MM is an intriguing exploration of a woman who will likely never leave our thoughts and dreams.
*M M* runs through May 27 at Theatre 82, 82 Rolfe Square, Cranston. To purchase tickets, visit: artists-exchange.org/events.html.