Finishing the Picture, Finborough Theatre

by an anonymous guest critic

An insight into the stark realities of the film industry, the Finborough Theatre’s production of Finishing the Picture is a perfect mix of grit and comedy. Loosely based on Arthur Miller’s then-wife Marilyn Monroe’s experience filming The Misfits  in 1961, this is the play’s first European premiere and is harrowingly apt in a era of #MeToo allegations.

Transporting us into 1960’s Reno, Nevada we are welcomed into a hotel where the production team of a Hollywood movie are tackling the issue of their troubled leading lady Kitty. Stuck in a spiral of drugs and misery, Kitty struggles to survive in a world where she is continually objectified by the male gaze. Never actually seen on stage, Kitty’s absence highlights how her opinion is never considered in this nightmarish world.

It becomes clear that they may not finish their picture in time due to the leading lady’s attitude, creating an atmosphere of stress and panic. As the team continue to search for solutions in Act I, the dialogue feature a constant stream of inappropriate commentary about the actresses physical appearance, mainly from cinematographer Terry (Patrick Bailey), suggesting that her “ass” is what “makes the movies a success”.

The second act brings even more tension as the stakes are raised through a series of desperate monologues directed at Kitty. Enhanced by a dim lighting state (Rachel Sampley) and a crazed, manic jazz underscore designed by Nicola Chang, the monologues are delivered well, though a bit too long at times. Nonetheless this is a well-executed play and is an important contribution to the #MeToo climate illustrating how far we have come but how far we still have to go.

Finishing the Picture runs until 7 July.

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