Madonna's first preview at Wyndham's Theatre on May 14 was worth the wait for her fans. The first performance of David Williamson's Up For Grabs had an extra edge to it, given that not only had the play's matinees been canceled some weeks ago but, more recently, so had the evening previews, scheduled for May 9.
Members of the audience, interviewed after the play (in which Madonna plays a pushy art dealer with her eye on a fortune from a Jackson Pollock painting, and in which there was cleavage, a lesbian kiss and a sex aid), suggest that the diva was much stronger in the second half of the evening, having shaken off stage nerves in the first.
To be fair to Madonna, however, many plays "take off" in the second half, so it could have been the script as much as her sensibilities that held her back in the first act.
It was the fans who had to be held back after the curtain call, however, as Madonna left the playhouse in a manner more familiar to Wembley than Wyndham's, with fans battling it out with photographers for a glimpse of the leading lady.
Theatregoers who want to see her onstage rather than being thrust into the back of a limousine, will have to queue for returns or pay outrageous black market ticket prices of over a hundred pounds each. Whatever the critics make of the play or her performance, Madonna's first preview has proved her able to generate as much excitement in a West End theatre as in one of her concerts, which is no mean feat for someone who last acted onstage in 1988.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow