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Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles

Christian McKay at the Norwich Arts Centre

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 19 January 2005

Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles

It takes a big man to fill the shoes of a larger-than-life legend like George Orson Welles. Clearly, Christian McKay is a man with a passion to bring to the stage the complexities of a great film director, actor, writer and self-confessed ‘Jack of all Entertainment’.

The tightly written sardonic script allowed actor and audience to share a unique journey.

“My name is Orson Welles, or is it?” We gradually discovered the man, the icon.

He name-dropped across the early movie decades. From magician to wonder kid director, to the first love that never died – Shakespeare – he slipped between roles, insights and anecdotes.

The 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds that caused panic as listeners mistook drama for news, led to him being asked to issue a statement to confirm that Pearl Harbor was real.

In Citizen Kane, his masterpiece, we glimpse a bleak pleasure in ownership in mausoleum of emptiness.

And from his inability to leave the dames alone into his fat old age, he ate for the world. A final Falstaff brought us full circle. As the man said, “life is not a film script, it’s outakes. The secret is in the editing”.

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