Theatre review: Places

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: This enjoyable autobiographical play, written and performed with alacrity by Romy Nordlinger, is as conventionally delivered as its subject, the silent movie star Alla Nazimova, was
unconventional.

New Town Theatre (Venue 7)

***

Despite her star on Hollywood Boulevard, Nazimova’s story has been largely forgotten but, in her day, this Russian émigré studied under Stanislavsky, was feted on Broadway, where her portrayals of the strong female roles in Ibsen and Chekhov inspired writers such as Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams, and went on to become the highest paid actress in the nascent Hollywood moving pictures
industry.

With the requisite imperious diva flourish, Nordlinger effectively paints a portrait of an independent thinker who trailblazed against the odds, despite being forced to dissemble for most of her life – hiding her Jewish background while she was still in Russia and her homosexuality when she moved to the US, though she partied freely at her Sunset Boulevard mansion, dubbed the Garden of Alla, and ferociously “scrapped my way through the boy’s club”.

Grainy photographs and footage of Nazimova and her world flicker behind Nordlinger, like hazy black and white memories of a character who lived her life in saturated technicolour.

Until 27 August. Today 5pm.