FRINGE THEATRE – The Girl Who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign – Botanic Gardens – 5K

scaled_800287tight_cropBy Peter Maddern

It’s a frightened and exhausted Evie Edwards (Joanne Hartstone) who greets us as this young woman emerges high up at the cross of the H on the infamous Hollywood sign. As she sees it, her life has no future and dressed in black she starts to tell us how this came to be; a fable laced with all the elements of the Hollywood dream, especially those of the 1930s when certain stars enjoyed phenomenal fame and who, albeit unwittingly, put out siren calls for all manner and number of those who also sought their status who then drove themselves into the rocks of life in pursuit of the dreams they appeared to represent, just like Evie.

Of course, the 1930s story has the added baggage of wealth wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash and lifestyles rent asunder by those outcomes and the economic conditions that endured for a decade before, somewhat ironically, war saved America’s bacon. These forces made pursuit of wealth and status by the LA factory just that more irresistible.

Joanne Hartstone gives a masterful performance combining the many faces of her heroine – the frightened, the determined, the pathetic, the heroic – with outbreaks of song that not only spoke to the age but of the age. That she also wrote this play speaks further volumes for her talents; its research, concocting a tale of promise and poison Hollywood style, is interwoven without confusing complexity.

In short, nothing detracts from the magic of this production.

“The Fringe” when it was a Fringe used to be home for many a show like this; edgy, combative performances that showcased what the latent talents of this state could produce. Now, one has to dig hard to find it, not unlike the planning and passage required to find the Noel Lothian Hall in the Botanic Gardens in the midst of nearly WOMAD and the idiocy of the O-Bahn extensions.

Still, dear readers, do not be put off by those challenges; the rewards for seeing the best piece of theatre this Fringe (yes, even up against the much and rightly hyped Holden Street fare, Eleanor’s Story and their ilk) are worth it all.

Kryztoff Rating   5K

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