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Australian Stage - By Vitto Mattarelli 7th November 2014

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Following a sold out Broadway Season that lured the outrageous Bette Midler back to the theatre, the Melbourne Theatre Company has decided to stage this one-woman bio-play about famed Hollywood Uber-agent Sue Mengers for Melbourne audiences.

The MTC has wisely chosen to give the plum role to veteran performer Miriam Margolyes – a fine actor with an long, long list of international film, television and theatre roles to her credit. Ms Margolyes is also one of those talented performers who can magically transform themselves into almost any character – a rare breed.

Written by stage and screen writer John Logan, I'll Eat You Last is essentially a sit down chat with Sue Mengers, who passed away just a few years ago. Mengers was a Hollywood A-lister best known for representing Hollywood's elite – from Faye Dunaway to Gene Hackman, Candice Bergen to Barbra Streisand.

The audience is invited to observe and experience the formidable power-broker, sitting at home, smoking a cigarette one moment, a joint the next, waiting for the phone to ring. A call that one of the most influential women in Hollywood seems a little nervous about – a call from La Streisand herself.

Along the way we learn about Sue the daughter of German immigrants who never gave up in creating her own niche in the ruthless world of the film industry. Mengers loved to chat, or rather dish the dirt with her many clients and colleagues – and we learn a lot. About the rise and fall of some of the famous, the ones she loathed and the ones that she truly loved. All told in her very unique manner, direct, uncompromising, peppered with filthy expletives and the occasional words of a wise old soul.

Miriam Margolyes is one of those performers who seems incapable of delivering a mere average performance. She is a bundle of dynamite in her quieter roles. Here she excels herself, delivering a steady, sure, totally convincing performance that commands your attention from first line to last. In her blonde wig, looking very little like Miriam, Sue takes centre stage and delivers a performance that I can only describe as a Masterclass in performance.

In a rare opening night speech, Miriam thanked her director Dean Bryant and Vocal Coach Leith McPherson for their part in her glory. Both have undeniably contributed greatly to the production's success.

I'll Eat You Last is a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman. It is funny, touching and without too much theatricality. It is a conversation with someone who sees the world as it is and is not afraid to voice an opinion. The show is also an opportunity to experience one of the finest performances you will see on a Melbourne stage this year.

Melbourne Theatre Company presents I’ll Eat You Last by John Logan Director Dean Bryant Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio Dates: 31 October – 20 December 2014

Posted : 7th November 2014

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