Reviewed by: Glam Adelaide
Review by Brian Godfrey | 16 February 2024
Scene: The living room of a hotel apartment in New York City Time: 1943 American poet, writer, critic and screenwriter (she co-wrote with her second husband, Alan Campbell, the screenplay of the original A Star Is Born (1937) – way before Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were even twinkles in their parents’ eyes) Dorothy Parker sits before a young female editor (unseen) from Viking Press working out what of her many, many works should go into her next book, The Portable Dorothy Parker. Annie Lux’s script is basically a potted biography, very neatly bundled into an hour’s worth of insight into a woman, who, among many achievements, was the first female theatre critic, a co-founder of the Screen Writers Guild, and rubbed shoulders with and was equal to literary greats such as F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway and Nathaniel Benchley. Humour comes from Parker’s writings and wonderfully caustic wit, with drama supplied by her real life. Lee Costello has directed the piece with a minimum of movement and has her actor, Margot Avery, quite static for the majority of the play – perhaps a little too much so. This is probably to allow us to soak in Parker’s wit and wisdom. But, there is where the main problem lies. Avery is very good as Parker, certainly giving the audience a real glimpse of the woman, but in doing so loses some energy and quite a lot of volume – especially on the end of sentences. A lot of Parker’s wonderful wit and prose was lost to the majority of the audience on the day I reviewed. I have seen many shows in The Arch and performed on its stage myself and know that the acoustics themselves are fine. Hopefully this problem fixes itself for the rest of the season. Don’t get me wrong, Avery is a fine performer – her gradual deterioration from drinking (Parker’s that is) is a Master Class in presenting alcoholism in its truest form – no overacting here. Overall, this is an interesting insight into a fascinating woman. Once volume is controlled, The Portable Dorothy Parker will be ready to take with you anywhere.