Marilyn Monroe has become an icon of her generation. In this 90-minute play, we see her descent into a haze of longing and neediness with no one she can rely upon for understanding or peace. Her last moments are spent on the phone, trying to reach someone to talk to. How did she die? What were her last thoughts? This play fictionalizes that scene with penetrating insight into what might have been her last longings.
Best Always, Marilyn Monroe
Review by D. D. Delaney
‘Without doubt this is a strong play that could speak to a wide audience because it connects so strongly with our shared collective fantasies of who we Americans are—or wish we were. Those fantasies are shaped by Hollywood. For better or worse, we, like Marilyn, cannot easily distinguish between life as it really is and life as we live it through our movies.”
D.D. Delaney, Thinking Dog Blog Reviews May 27, 2011 (from a review of the most recent production at The Venue on 35th as part of the Norfolk Summer Play Fest
From the Play
Play Excerpt: The Characters:
Marilyn Monroe: (from ages 28 to 36) The beautiful, full-figured blonde legend. It is not so much an imitation of the real Marilyn, but an emulation of her essence. That provocative combination of sexiness and naiveté that disarmed and surprised everyone who knew the girl behind the image. In this play, her profound insecurities have taken their toll in the form of drug dependence and maniacal ambition.
Joe Dimaggio and Arthur Miller: These characters can be played by the same actor to represent that SOMETHING Marilyn was searching for in all the men she loved. Both are tall. Everything else should be just a hint of the actual man. Joe’s broad shoulders and impeccable wardrobe; Arthur’s glasses and writer’s sweaters.
Voices Over The Telephone and “Crew”: One male and one female character actor will play the various voices of press and studio personnel, operators, patients, and the other characters in the play, heard only over Marilyn’s constant companion—the telephone. During the Scene changes, they should be costumed in custodial, hotel and studio employee uniforms. The set changes should appear more like a service hired to change the room over.
Time: 1954 to 1962
Act 1: Opening: February 1961. The maximum care ward at Payne-Whitney Psychiatric Hospital, New York.
Scene 1. September 1954. A suite at the St. Regis Hotel, New York.
Scene 2. July 1956. The master bedroom in a British country cottage at Eggham in Windsor Park.
Act 2: Opening: Same as Act I opening.
Scene 1. August 1960. A trailer on the set of The Misfits in the desert outside of Reno, Nevada.
Scene 2. August 4, 1962. Marilyn’s bedroom on Fifth Helena Drive, outside Los Angeles.
Act 1, opening: fade-in of Frank Sinatra “croon tunes” playing on a portable hi-fi. A special effect of light coming through barred windows is projected onto a tile floor, dsr. Two chairs face upstage and a bed can be distinguished on a raised platform. Sounds of the moaning of a person in a fitful sleep. An open john with a small lavatory is ur. One of those pull-across curtains can close off the John. Suddenly, a window in the hall door, up left, opens with a sharp thud, spilling light across the bed where a blonde is sleeping.
Voice Of The Nurse: Miss Miller? (Raps on the door) Miss Miller? Come on, telephone for you .
Marilyn: (Groggily, from the bed) Whaa? Joe? Is that you? (Sits up)
Nurse: Let’s go! There’s others want to use the phone. Come right now. (Goes off, leaving the aperture open)
Marilyn: Yeah, yeah, I’m comin’. Can’t wake up when I’m asleep; can’t get to sleep when I’m awake. Maybe that’s what being crazy is! (She gets up and feels her way along the wall to the light switch. As the glaring overhead light comes on, she shields her eyes) Gawd!
Voice In The Hall: Who’s on ‘is phone? I gotta make a call.
Marilyn: (Rushing out the door) Hey! That’s for me. Don’t you dare touch that….(She’s only gone a few minutes, then belatedly rushes back into the room and shuts the door behind her.) I can’t believe he’s already here. He says it might take him a while to get up here. I’m on the Max ward. He must’ve hired a private plane to get here so quickly. (She begins straightening up her hair and looking for things. The music stops.) I can’t stand this. Why did they have to take all my things? I ought to tell them who I really am! Then they’ll be sorry how they’ve treated me. Wait ‘til they see who’s coming upstairs in a few minutes. (She splashes water on her face, looks around some more, then tears the hem off the bedsheet and ties it around the waist of her hospital gown. She turns the record over and sings along with the tune.)
Raunchy Voice In The Hall: Hi, Blondie! How’s about rippin’ off your dress again so’s I can see ya?
Marilyn: Get away! Someone’s coming. You better look out.
Voice: Just for me? The guy on my hall sez you’re really Marilyn Monroe. Zat true?
Marilyn: (Slightly pleased) So what if it is?
Voice: Prove it! One look at your tits and I’ll be able to tell if it’s true.
Marilyn: I’ve got something to show you, all right. (She stomps over and slams the window shut. The voice of the nurse can be heard in the hall.)
Nurse: Mister Barnes! What are you doing over in this hall? Leave Miss Miller’s door alone. (The rest of the nurse’s speech is faded as she walks him away.