REVIEW: THE LAST TYCOON (Arts Theatre) ★★★


Whenever people think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, they tend to discuss his most famous work – The Great Gatsby. For me however, there is something more appealing about a writer’s lesser known works, especially those that remain unfinished at their death.

The Last Tycoon was a little over half finished when Fitzgerald died, completed by Edmund Wilson and published posthumously. Although based on MGM Producer Irving Thalberg, there is also something almost autobiographical about the piece.

Adapted by Simon Levy and making its European premiere in London this year, the story shares the life of Monroe Star (Simon Victor), a Hollywood producer working himself to death. One night he meets Kathleen More (EJ Martin) who reminds him of his dead wife and realises his work may not be all he has to live for…

Told through the eyes of Cecilia Brady (Hero Douglas), his financier’s daughter, who is in love with him, we are introduced to the sad tale of a man who is dealing with his grief by throwing himself into his work.

The acting in this production is, for the most part, excellent. The chemistry between Victor and Martin is extremely believable and Both actors are almost flawless in their roles. Douglas captures the innocent naivety of a young woman in love, although the chemistry here is less convincing. Jon House as her father Pat Brady and James Lloyd as Mr Marcus (the two ‘villains’) are also very strong actors, perfectly portraying the rich, arrogant men who will stop at nothing to get their way and make more money.

The costumes and set (designed by Belle Mundi and Hanna Wilkinson) are exquisite. The space is small, but the attention to detail is fantastic and captures the essence of Hollywood, particularly the centre piece and the bar.

Unfortunately, despite the excellent cast and visually pleasing performance, it is the story itself that lets the piece down. Similar in structure to The Great Gatsby, the tale lacks substance and there is no suspense or climax that makes an impact. It is an interesting piece from an historical perspective, but ultimately it is dull and disappointing.

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes

THE LAST TYCOON plays at the Arts Theatre until 10 September 2016