First-rate acting makes this production, performed in a stark black box, fairly absorbing. Church gives convincing dignity to Olivier, within the ambit of the actor’s sporadic fits of failed confidence. As Welles, Duckworth now and then lets us glimpse a spark of erstwhile genius, but his performance is handicapped by a lumpy fat suit that makes him look like an obese bobblehead doll. As Kenneth Tynan, Lee makes the obsequious/confident balancing act look natural. The Joan Plowright character is largely window dressing, but Crews gives the lass class. Vivien Leigh comes into the story late, like a glamorous Godot everyone is waiting for, but Westgate provides an ample burst of fetching charisma. And although the incidental character Sean is merely Welles’s Irish assistant, Andrew Iacovelli gives him a feisty personality that’s fun to see rise and fall.
Orson’s Shadow is an intriguing little interplay play, even if neither of the main characters is particularly important to you in cultural history. Whether interesting people are celebrities or ordinary folk, listening and watching them bump and tussle for a couple of hours can be instructive as well as fun.