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Me and Orson Welles

7 December 09 words: Alison Emm
Don’t be scared off by Efron – he’s not half bad and isn’t the only thing the film has to offer
Christian McKay and Zac Efron in Me and Orson Welles
Christian McKay and Zac Efron in Me and Orson Welles

Zac Efron… urm, yeah - mindless Disney clone that sings, dances, smiles, lacks sexuality and generally makes anyone over the age of eighteen want to be a little bit sick in their mouths? 

Well, times may be a changing if Me and Orson Welles is anything to go by; a film about a young wannabe actor who manages to wangle an unpaid part in Julius Caesar at Welles’ newly opened Mercury Theatre.  It’s surprisingly good and makes you forget that Efron wasn’t your cup of tea previously.

The great Orson Welles had a career that spanned decades, not only as a radio, film and theatre actor but as a director, producer and writer. Me and Orson Welles focuses on a young Orson Welles in 1937 and is set backstage at The Mercury Theatre. Welles, notoriously arrogant, pedantic and difficult, was always that way it appears, even at twenty-two.  In this feature we get to see him hire and fire on the spot, make constant demands of his cast and crew, womanise and be generally brilliant. Christian McKay nails the part of Welles; the voice, charisma, mannerisms and facial expressions are played to perfection. Through McKay, you can understand why people, even when Welles was being unbearable, were loyal to him and you can also see the genius in his ability to bring a play to life, improvise and avoid confrontations which could have damaged his blossoming career.
Christian McKay in Me and Orson Welles
Christian McKay in Me and Orson Welles

Me and Orson Welles is not heavy on ‘big stars’, it’s biggest probably being Mr. Efron and Claire Danes, although it is full of talent: Eddie Marsan is great as the put-upon producer, Ben Chaplin is the angst ridden player and Leo Bill the clown of the gang. Efron’s character, Richard, is naïve, yet keen, and ends up getting more than he bargained for not only with a part as Lucius but romantically with the ambitious assistant, Sonja (Claire Danes). Another thing that makes this a watchable film is that it has been directed so that you feel like you are there and you can feel the excitement, anticipation and stresses that go with putting a production together.
Me and Orson Welles isn’t just about Orson Welles, ‘though Christian McKay does steal the show, it’s also a character driven look into the life of Broadway theatre that provides some mild scenes of romance and comedy. So, although it’s only natural, don’t be scared off by Efron – he’s not half bad and isn’t the only thing the film has to offer.   
Me and Orson Welles will be showing at Broadway cinema until Thursday 17 December




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