One of the most intriguing and memorable stories about the Golden days of Hollywood was David O ‘Selnicks search for the actress to play Scarlett O’ Hara in the film version of Margaret Mitchell’s book, Gone with the Wind and when Vivien Leigh was cast it caused a sensation not only was she English but she had to adopt the Southern Belle accent. Risky at the time. I mention this as Sophia Eleni who plays Vivien Leigh in Simone Leonardi’s To be or not be Scarlett O ‘Hara plays the role where she handles the switch in accent between the crispness of Leigh and the Southern drawl of O ‘Hara with absorbing effect. Federico Moro as Larry Oliver , Leigh’s lover at the time is also superbly cast and his chissled good looks perfectly emphasise his arrogance and his abruptness towards Leigh as he knows that the huge success Leigh would subsequently get from playing the role of a lifetime is inevitable , The tension between the two based upon career jealousies is played out beautifully. Eleni as Leigh plays the role with a masterful understanding of the power of ambition. This is also a very sexy play. Leonardo also spices up the story by suggesting a salacious connection between Clark Gable who has been cast to play Rhett Butler and George Cukor, the famous Director who was for a time in the frame to direct the movie. He also touches on Olivier’s homosexuality his marriage to Jill Osbourne who produced a son for him and the fact that Leigh was considering having an abortion so she would be ready to play O ‘Hara, This is a well researched play totally believable where the twists and turns of the story where character manipulation is based upon the fact that on both a professional and personal levels all the characters including Tino Orsini who plays George Cukor need to have their respective egos constantly massaged. Hollywood Babylon, gossip and glamour superbly brought to life by Raffaele Cericola precise direction.
4 stars, the play was reviewed in the 26th April at the Etcetera Theatre 265 Camden High Street NW1 7B
Runs to the 30th April Box office 020 7482 4857
Pictures by Rooful Ali