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28 October 2014

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Up for Grabs - 30.05.02
madonna in Up for Grabs
Madonna and co-star Tom Irwin in Up for Grabs
spacer Our theatre critic Mark Shenton finds Madonna in the West End "palpably uneasy"....
Latest Theatre News
Three To See: latest theatre recommendations

Wyndhams Theatre
Charing Cross Road WC2
020 7369 1796
tube: Leicester Square
Mon - Sat 8pm
£20 - £37.50
Booking to 13 July


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.

Since Madonna, 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.

Madonna in Up for GrabsIn 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.

Surprisingly small
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).

David Williamson's sensationalist, but less-than-sensational, play rolls on the shock tactics when all else fails, as Madonna has routinely done throughout her career.

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.

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