Oscar-winning actress Vivien Leigh's life story was a complex one. Born in India and trained in England, she won Academy Awards for her portrayals of quintessential Southern belles Scarlett O'Hara and Blanche DuBois. Leigh married and unhappily divorced Laurence Olivier, perhaps the greatest actor of his generation, before manic-depression and a twenty year battle with tuberculosis killed her in 1967.
Janis Stevens portrays the great thespian in Vivien: The Triumph and Madness of Vivien Leigh at San Francisco's Magic Theatre, playing Sept. 8-Oct. 7. Barbara Bosch directs.
The Rick Foster one-woman biodrama opens as Leigh stumbles into the West End theatre where she thinks she supposed to be doing a read through of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, the play she was rehearsing when she was found dead in her London home. Finding herself alone in the theatre, Leigh begins to recount her many life battles from her love and loss of Olivier to the bipolar disease which gave her great energy only to plunge her into despair right afterwards.
Foster's plays include Love, Isadora based on the life of Isadora Duncan and The Heroes of Xochiquipa, which received a Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award for outstanding new script. Foster is a founding member of the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle.
A veteran of TheaterWorks, B Street Theatre and Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Stevens' credits include many of the roles Leigh played - Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and Sabina in The Skin of Our Teeth. Tickets are $25-$30. The Magic Theatre is located in Building D at the Fort Mason Center on Marina Boulevard. For reservations, (415) 441-3687. The Magic Theatre is on line at http://www.magictheatre.org.
— By Christine Ehren