Theatre / Seven Year Itch

First there was Some Like it Hot, then came Sunset Boulevard. It can only be a matter of time before someone decides to turn Double Indemnity into a play. Or Stalag 17. There appears to be an unwritten law that "If Billy Wilder filmed it, thou shouldst stage it". I beg to differ. The only point at which Sunset really takes off is when it most clearly reproduces the well-nigh-perfect film, so why bother? Some Like it Hot has had not one but two musical versions but no one could seriously suggest that either was an improvement on one of the most sublime screen comedies ever made.

Then there's the Monroe problem. Jerry Hall's performance in the stage revival of Bus Stop was described as "a bus you wouldn't want to take more than once", but who on earth could take on Marilyn (above) and win?

Playwright Terry Johnson was so intrigued by Monroe's iconic status that he wrote Insignificance, about an imaginary meeting between her and three other major American figures. Theresa Russell played her - wearing the notorious dress from The Seven Year Itch - in the Nic Roeg film version which returns as a play starring Frances Barber at the Donmar in June.

Wisely, the latest revival of The Seven Year Itch - another Billy Wilder/Monroe vehicle - rescues it from beneath Monroe's shadow. Jon Harris's production is a Nineties look at the play and Eleanor Tremain is free to play the role, rather than impersonate a legend.

`The Seven Year Itch' is at the New End Theatre, 27 New End, NW3, from Tue (0171-794 0022)

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