Up for Grabs
is about a modern art dealer who finds that trying to sell a Jackson
Pollock painting creates fissures in her psyche and her marriage
as she greedily trades her dignity and sexuality with prospective
buyers in return for the commission that could be hers.
the original Material Girl, plays this particular materialistic
girl, there's an added frisson, for she has spent her entire life
voraciously trading those same qualities in return for the fame
and celebrity that are now hers, though at a price.
exposing herself on the unpredictable high wire of close-up live
theatre, she has to try to establish a character that transcends
the icon that is Madonna. The audience don't make it easy, roaring
in unison as she walks out on a bare stage, before she has even
uttered a word.
But neither do
her far more experienced co-stars, who make this business of acting
live look easy when she is palpably uneasy.
Theatre's a team sport, but the weak one stands out. Madonna is
tentative, awkward, and surprisingly small of both voice and stature:
is this the same woman who can command football stadiums? (The entire
9-week run of this play in a West End theatre seating around 800
will be seen by 40,000 people - half the number who saw her in one
gig at Wembley Stadium).
sensationalist, but less-than-sensational, play rolls on the shock
tactics when all else fails, as Madonna has routinely done throughout
Like one of her
music videos, it's all stylishly packaged in a set of moving panels
and projections that cleverly establish time and place. But it's
all style over content: just like its star.