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Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles - One4Review

In looks, manner and voice Christian McKay is a convincing Orson Welles, but it is his superb one man performance which brings Welles to life – his acerbic wit and his driven nature to succeed artistically in his own terms. Opening with the Harry Lime character, the action quickly moves to explore his comfortable childhood years as a prodigious talent in everything except sport. Naturally, the background to the well documented events of his artistic life when he was in his twenties are included – the radio version of H.G.Welles ‘War of the Worlds’ which caused panic through its realism, and the film classic ‘Citizen Kane’. What clearly emerges was that despite his colossal talent to write, perform, produce and direct, if the powerful, whether they be individuals or the political system were attacked, they were vindictive in their response. His greatest difficulty in what might have been his most productive years was gaining finance to fund the films he wished to make. Hence in his own eyes, he stooped to performing in the most trite of TV commercials. As the play draws to conclusion, we enter into a dark and poignant period as Christian McKay transforms himself into the obese, Falstaffian figure of Welles final years. The frustration and bitterness are clearly apparent in that the films he could have made and should have been released will never be appreciated. Full credit is due not only to Christian McKay for a compelling performance but also to writer Mark Jenkins and director Josh Richards for this quality production. As for Rosebud – that was a surprise! ****

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