Previewed 13 May 2002, Opened 23 May 2002, Closed 13 July 2002 at the Wyndham's Theatre
The West End Premiere of David Williamson's comedy Up For Grabs in London starring Madonna in her West End stage debut
When one of Jackson Pollack's finest works slips quietly onto the market a sharp and ambitious art dealer is determined to make her fortune. Risking everything she has through the course of a tense private aution, she plays off her wealthy clients against each other, manipulating their greed, lust and power as the price of the painting surges. This bitingly funny contemporary comedy delves into the darker recesses of the super-priviledged. Focusing on their virtues, vices and ulterior motives, it is a hugely entertaining insight into what amkes people tick when money is no object.
The cast features Madonna Richie as 'Loren', with Megan Dodds as 'Mindy', Tom Irwin as 'Gerry', Michael Lerner as 'Manny', Daniel Pino as 'Kel', Sian Thomas as 'Dawn', and Debora Weston as 'Phyllis'.
Directed by Laurence Boswell with sets by Jeremy Herbert, costumes by Arianne Phillips, projections by Jon Driscoll and Richard Overall, lighting by Mark Hendderson, music by Simon Bass.
Laurence Boswell's recent London West End directing credits include This is Our Youth at the Garrick Theatre in 2002 and A Death in the Death of Joe Egg at the Ambassadors Theatre in 2001 and at the Comedy Theatre in 2002.
Sian Thomas' London theatre credits include the roles of 'Liz' in Max Stafford-Clark's production of Alistair Beaton's Feelgood at the Hampstead Theatre, and transfer to the West End's Garrick Theatre in 2001; 'Goneril' Yukio Ninagawa's revival of William Shakespeare's King Lear at the Barbican Theatre in 1999; 'Celimene' in Paul Unwin's revival of Moliere's The Misanthrope at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1989; and 'Helena Andreyevna Serebryakova (Yelena)' in Peter Egan and Kenneth Branagh's revival of Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in 1991.
Prior to opening, all matinee (afternoon) performances where cancelled due to "Madonna's unforeseen recording commitments". This production was originally scheduled to begin public previews from 9 May 2002 but 'technical difficulties' forced the cancellation of the first three preview performances on Thursday 9, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 May. As the show was sold out, three Saturday matinee performances where announced - Saturday 18 May, 6 and 13 July - to which ticket holders to the cancelled preview performances where offered tickets. A statement from the show's producers said: "The production has developed into a complex synchronicity between moving set, sound, music and projection and realising it in an older style theatre like the Wyndhams has increased necessary technical time."
"Madonna made her West End stage debut last night and it was, frankly, a belly flop. She tries hard but she's as flat as a flounder. Don't ask me why. Our Madge is a great mover. But she swallows her lines and for a pop star accustomed to singing to thousands, she's all fingers and thumbs in this art world comedy... True, you can't take your eyes off her because she's Madonna and it's a thrill to be a few feet from the queen of superstars. And it's great to have her lending much needed glamour to a new play. She plays Loren, a frantic art dealer trying to flog a famous abstract painting for $20million to the squalid New York superrich... The play - by esteemed Australian writer David Williamson - is one of those "What price your soul?" jobs as she goes to any lengths to get her clients' offers up... Sian Thomas as the drunk British corporate gives the best comic value... It's not a disaster but the Material Girl needs better material than this to kickstart her stage career." The Daily Express
"In the hilarious play Up for Grabs Madonna stars as art dealer Loren, who is prepared to go to any lengths to sell a painting... Madonna was born to play Loren, but there lies a problem. She may have won a Golden Globe for her big-screen role in Evita, but to judge by this performance she will never be accepted as a serious contender on the London stage... She is supported by a very strong cast, a stunning set and a trendy soundtrack. But it was a total shock that she was barely audible on stage without a microphone... At times, Madonna interrupted the other actors and seemed very awkward, looking as if she didn't know what to do with her hands. But she was saved by some great one-liners." The Daily Mirror
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever, and sometimes it is worth $20 million too. Or perhaps only $17 million. For Loren, a Manhattan art dealer trying to dispose of a Jackson Pollock, anything less than the upper price represents ruin. She has three prospective buyers. She plays them off against each other, caters to their sexual whims when things grow desperate, and meanwhile tries to cope with a notably non-supportive husband. Such is the gist of David Williamson's Up for Grabs... Williamson draws his caricatures with a thick outline, and he can be crude. But the play is very watchable, and quite funny - and the part of Loren is played by Madonna. She starts shakily, but soon improves. The most striking aspect of her performance is the amiability, even sweetness, that she projects. If she is putting it on, she is a brilliant actress indeed. If not, she is no more than competent. But under the circumstances that is good enough... Laurence Boswell's production features some strong supporting performances, especially from Sian Thomas as a hard-drinking art consultant and Michael Lerner as a bullying billionaire." The Sunday Telegraph
Up For Grabs in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 13 May 2002, opened on 23 May 2002 and closed on 13 July 2002