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Joanne Hartstone in The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign. (Photo by Peter Hall.)

Joanne Hartstone in The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign. (Photo by Peter Hall.)


The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign

Reviewed by Vanessa Cate
KADM Productions

Through June 22

RECOMMENDED

Cleverly directed by Vince Fusco, Australian playwright Hartstone stars as Evie Edwards, an aspiring actress at the end of her rope. The year is 1949, and Edwards has endured tragedy, poverty, humiliation and sacrifice on her road to the silver screen. Now she stands on a precipice of life and death atop the iconic Hollywood sign. Having decided to end it all, she recounts the journey that brought her to this point.

It’s hard to say whether Hartstone achieves greater success as a writer or as a performer. Her story incorporates personal fiction alongside juicy Hollywood history. As an actress, she carries her one-woman show through seventy minutes of Old Hollywood bliss. Her character, Mid-Atlantic dialect, and singing (yes, singing!) are all on point: stylistically, you almost feel as if you are watching a scene from a 1940s classic.

At the core of the show is an examination of the horrific burdens women have had to bear in order to survive and gain acceptance and success. As Edwards ponders her own demise, she draws links to the haunting deaths of Jean Harlow, Judy Garland, and others. Is it any wonder that so many women have gone down roads of self-destruction in pursuit of perfection?

As a vocalist, Hartstone channels the late Miss Garland, belting out classic songs from that era. As Edwards, she also tells tales of the Hollywood Canteen, a bygone World War II institution which provided wholesome entertainment to servicemen before being shipped off. “Corns for my Country,” originally performed by the Andrews Sisters, playfully recounts a volunteer worker’s struggles in said canteen. Hartstone performs it well, with a delicate balance of pep and tragedy.

Rene Parras Jr. designed the minimalist yet imposing set. All told, the production seduces with its elements of glamour and the macabre, with finishing touches of nostalgia and vulnerability.

 

The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood 90038; http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4652; Running time: Approximately 70 minutes, no intermission

 

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The post HOLLYWOOD FRINGE 2017: The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign appeared first on STAGE RAW – ARTS IN L.A. – SERVED FRESH.

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