Zsa Zsa and Me
- Eddie Harrison
- 11 August 2017
A personal account of working with the 'dahlink' star, Zsa Zsa Gabor
When Zsa Zsa Gabor died earlier this year, obituary writers were quick to point out that, while she had no obvious talents herself, Gabor was a harbinger of the vacuous celebrity culture that today's public vacuously enjoy. Nine husbands, some ropey films and an endless drive for self-promotion have cemented Zsa Zsa's place in the annals of pop culture; her death (aged 99) enables Nigel Miles-Thomas to give a personal account of working with her in his show Zsa Zsa and Me, a task presumably inadvisable while his litigious subject was alive.
Miles-Thomas is an established producer of Fringe shows, and it's clear from the outset that he's also a natural raconteur with a good story to tell. He produced a Christmas pantomime in Los Angeles circa 1992, and unwisely enlisted the famously erratic Gabor to play the fairy godmother. What followed was a list of demands (money, Winnebagos, last-minute costume changes) and an inability to follow simple stage instructions; the miracle is that Miles-Thomas was not bankrupted for life.
As a tall-tale told from a bar-stool, Zsa Zsa and Me is very enjoyable, although the fault of the enterprise is that there isn't enough of it. On the night of review, the anecdote ended in a scrappy clip-reel with more than a third of its allotted hour to spare.
Yet Miles-Thomas appears to have a plethora of great stories, including one about Bernie Winters and his dog Schnorbitz, which had his audience murmuring with anticipation. Relevant or not, it would also have been nice to hear about his work on the likes of Doctor Who, Grange Hill or Carry on Emmanuelle. And the punchline to his story, and the reason Miles-Thomas is not paying for his mistakes to this very day, was disappointingly thrown away without much investigation. Adding a little more meat on the bones of the anecdotes involved would make sure that Miles-Thomas gives Zsa Zsa the 'dahlink' send-off she truly deserves.
Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, until 29 Aug (not 14, 21), 6pm, £11--£12 (£10--£11).