In my continuing quest to seek out quality theatre on the Free Fringe I was overjoyed to happen upon An Audience With Gorgeous George. Great work from Alex Brockie who wrote the piece as well as being the director, producer and sole performer. I should say ‘star’ – because star is what George Raymond Wagner undoubtedly was in the days before reality TV and fifteen-minutes-of-fame entitlements.
To explain George was born in dirt poor Nebraska in 1915 and started his wrestling career in the early 1940s. He met the beautiful Betty – a cinema attendant – whose imagination had been fired by the countless movies she had seen. She effectively became his manager and stylist, encouraging him to camp it up before that term was thought of. National fame followed and then international renown with the dawn of the television age. Gorgeous George was huge and as in the best tradition of larger-than-life and colourful characters you know there’s going to be a sad decline. Drink and infidelity being his main vices along with the recurring guilt of not serving in WWII – the reason for which being revealed in a neat little dramatic device.
I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with the legend that was Gorgeous George before seeing the show. But doing some research afterwards I was astounded at how much Alex is physically like the man. Of course that could be great acting! From the screamingly flamboyant cloak and curly blond wig to the southern drawl and cocksure swagger it’s a wonderful evocation of the man. Either way whether you’re familiar with the legend or not it’s a stunning piece of theatre.
Review for 16 August