Moonlight and Magnolias @ Progress Theatre

By Rebecca Roberts

Ron Hutchinson’s quick witted, heart-thumping play reveals a fast paced vulgar Hollywood system of greed and insatiable uncertainty, where no one reads and everyone is hungry.

His delightfully cynical account of how Gone with the Wind is rush-written in five days in 1939 New York is splintered with anticipation for the holocaust. Jewish producer David O Selznick (Alex McCubbin) courts Jewish writer Ben Hecht (Daniel Clarke) to write the screenplay- never mind he’s never read the book.

The play wades through the depressingly serious to sparks of real humour, melodrama and wit, which Hutchison does so well. There is a constant oscillation between conflict and resolution, which always threatens the performance. Whilst taste and appetite are the driving force behind the whole show and comments like “I can taste this movie” are set against the physical hunger of the food-depraved team.

This is an exhaustive play, which grabs you with a punchy start and refuses to let go, with only bananas and peanuts as nourishment. The tireless performances were spot on, with a high standard and enthusiasm from the whole cast. As the play continues and waistcoats unbutton, belts dangle, ties loosen and the sympathetic audience slump, the energy is never lost.

The intimacy of the stage is well suited to this play and directors Liz Carroll and Matt Stevens create a beautifully dynamic performance, which injected it with life and fluidity.

The distracting croaks of English accents raised some laughs from the audience, although never shattered the 20th century American illusion. In fact the casts’ enjoyment of the script shone through, despite how difficult and action packed it is. By the resolution, it is not only the characters sighing for relief.

Progress Theatre Monday 11th November – Saturday 16th November 2013. Tickets prices start at £8 http://www.progresstheatre.co.uk/shows/moonlight-and-magnolias/

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