Life studies - Biographical shows at the Edinburgh Festival 2009

This article is from 2009

Life studies

There’s a feast of biographical shows at this year’s Fringe. Miles Fielder picks out five of the best

A Tribute – Gielgud’s Ages of Man
Experience Shakespeare via Johnny Gielgud in this celebration of the late great actor’s crowning achievement: his one-man recital of excerpts from the best of the Bard. Performed throughout the 1950s and 60s, the piece won Sir John Tony, Grammy and Emmy Awards. In this updated version, thesp George Innes has got his work cut out for him.
The Outhouse, 557 6668, 8–30 Aug, 12.15pm, free.

Becoming Marilyn

Not so much as straightforward biographical piece of theatre about the life of Hollywood’s blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe, but a look at how plain Norma Jean Mortenson became the world’s most famous film star. The show turns on the interesting conceit of having Norma Jean meet Marilyn.
Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, 8–31 Aug (not 17), 3.10pm, £12 (£10). Previews 6 & 7 Aug, £6.

Considering Georgia O’Keeffe

One-woman show exploring the life and art of the iconic American painter, taking its inspiration from both her biography and the art itself. Expect, then, a portrait of a woman and an artist, which, like its subject’s abstract representations of the flora, fauna and landscape of her adopted New Mexico home, is as evocative as it is literal.
St Bride’s, 346 1405, 10 & 11 Aug, 6.30pm, £7.


The life story of the one-time best-loved entertainer in Britain makes its Edinburgh debut on the 25th anniversary of the death of ‘the tall one with glasses’. Directed by Fringe veteran Guy Masterson, it follows Eric Morecambe’s life from his beginnings as a child performer on the pier in the Lancashire seaside town to international stardom.
Assembly Hall, 623 3030, 8–31 Aug (not 17), 4.10pm, £13–15 (£11–£13). Previews 6 & 7 Aug, £10.

And now for something completely different. Not one but many biographical snapshots in this comic look at that most enduring of British comedy troupes Monty Python, from the early years (see John Cleese’s first audition) through television’s Flying Circus to the films and the religious furore caused by the Life of Brian.
Udderbelly’s Pasture, 08445 458 252, 8–31 Aug (not 18), 12.45pm, £10–£12.50 (£8–£10.50). Previews 6 & 7 Aug, £7.

Becoming Marilyn

  • 3 stars

'Don't tell me I'm dead. The evening's just beginning'. Norma Jeane meets Marilyn Monroe in this sparkling, powerful and fascinating portrait of an icon. With Issy Van Randwyck (Fascinating Aida) directed by Gareth Armstrong.

Tribute - Gielgud's Ages of Man

  • 3 stars

Half a century later, Innes returnsto the Fringe with a new production from off-Broadway following Gielgud's chosen path. Journey from youthful Romeoto ancient Lear in delicately interwoven Shakespearean sonnets and speeches.

Considering Georgia O'Keeffe

One-woman show examining the life and art of major early 20th century American painter Georgia O'Keeffe, exploring her through the actor's voice. Inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe, conceived, performed by Allison Hetzel. Fringe premiere. Only two performances.


  • 4 stars

Tim Whitnall's play brilliantly celebrates Eric Morecambe, Comedian of the Century. Affectionate lad with funny bones, born entertainer, the man what brought us sunshine, 'the tall one with glasses'. Hilarious, moving, sensational, Bob Golding is directed by Guy Masterson. Already the best selling show on the fringe.


  • 4 stars

See Cleese's first audition. Hear the simpering paternalism of David Frost. Be touched by the religious furore over the 'Life of Brian'. Comprehend the true meaning of the coconuts in 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'!

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