Big Finish: Marilyn and Sinatra: Stranger Than Fiction, But Is It?
Before we begin a word of note. What follows is a review of an audio drama, which is based on a play, which in turn, is based on seemingly real life events. In fact, we are told this right at the beginning by the person who wrote this play. However, like with most dramatic recreations of real-life events, some things might, or more likely, will have been added or changed for dramatic effect. Now this is fine for telling a story, as dramatic and creative leeway, when done right, can make the story flow smoother and get you more hooked. But at the end of the day, what needs to be understood, is that all it is, is drama. A story. It is not meant to be taken as fact. If you want fact, you look up actual footage, reputable sources, first hand witnesses. You don’t take everything from Wikipedia and biopics. And that is essentially what this is: a biopic done by Big Finish. That doesn’t mean it’s bad…
He was a singer, an actor, the leader of the Rat-Pack, and became the man who did it his way…
She was an actress, and model, did some singing, and became the woman who wooed the world…
It seemed inevitable that their lives would cross in some way. And for five flying weeks, they did. But what happened afterward? What happened between Marilyn and Sinatra?
It could have gone many ways at any times. This is but one of those possibilities…
Big Finish is usually known for making and adapting stories that are out there, far flung fantasy, and gripping sci-fi, with a good helping of classic drama thrown in for good measure. This seems to be the first time something like this has been attempted, save for something like Cicero, which seems to fall under the historical drama category, rather than biopic. And as a first attempt goes…. This is pretty well done. Not one hundred percent perfect, but then rarely anything is on the first try. Sandro Monetti’s script, adapted from his stage play, presents an interesting tale that give you little titbit after little titbit of a relationship not often talked about. It’s been stated a bit that Monetti did extensive research while writing this, and although the warning from before still stands, this does feel like everything experienced in this little half-hour show could have happened.
And what helps is the cast, which is essential in all performance, but even more so when the cast and characters you will be experiencing this tale with are few. For this quick two-hander performance, Erin Gavin and Jeff Bratz reprise their role from the stage and for the vast majority of the play, they are incredibly believable. It sound like you are listening to Monroe and Sinatra, most likely down to Big Finish Supremo, Jason Haigh-Ellery’s directing work. Although there are times when it does sound like impressions and caricatures, they don’t happen that often and by the time it gets close to the end, every last doubt of the duo’s acting ability is tossed out of the window with, what feels like, the performance of a lifetime. Added to it is some brilliant sound design and music from Toby Hrycek-Robinson, who succeeds in capturing the feel of everything that happens and the musical style of the later Golden Age of Hollywood.
If there is a word to sum up this release, it would be….. interesting. It was a nice little change of pace from the regular output of Big Finish, and although not perfect, certainly good enough to give it some consideration. With some luck, maybe Big Finish might take a risk and experiment a bit more with this kind of story and format. After all, Big Finish took a big risk back in ’99. And look how that turned out!
BLOGTOR RATING 8/10 Some slight hitches, but on the whole, a great little excursion into some new territory.
Marilyn and Sinatra is available to download exclusively from the Big Finish website here.
This title was released in June 2017. It is exclusively available to buy from the BF website.
You know their names but you didn’t know their love story…until now! Adapted from the hit stage play of the same name and exhaustively researched, Marilyn & Sinatra dramatises the little-known tale of the rollercoaster relationship between Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra.
Set between 1954 and 1962, this intimate, entertaining, poignant and revealing drama stars Erin Gavin (Footballer’s Wives) and Jeff Bratz (America’s Got Talent).
NOTE: Marilyn & Sinatra contains adult material and is not suitable for younger listeners.
Written By: Sandro Monetti
Directed By: Jason Haigh-Ellery
Erin Gavin (Marilyn), Jeff Bratz (Sinatra)