Me and Orson Welles

Hmmm... A show biz film about show business. How could I resist? Of course this fictionalized episode from the storied life of the legendary Orson Welles is one of those "What if..." type projects, but it portrays people who actually participated in Mercury Theatre's ground-breaking 1937 production of "Caesar." (Not Shakespeare's classic Julius Caesar with which we are all familiar, but instead a truncated and much-modified version as envisioned by the Boy Wonder himself!)

We see:
  • Orson Welles, played by Christian McKay ("Abraham's Point") who is a Welles impressionist, not a Welles impersonator.
  • John Housemen, played by Eddie Marsan ("The Illusionist") who shows us the endless patience it took to work with Welles.
  • George Courlouris, played by Ben Chaplin ("Stage Beauty"), as he shakily tackles the challenging role of Mark Antony.
  • Muriel Brassler, played by Kelly Reilly ("Mrs. Henderson Presents"), who worries that her Portia will be upstaged by Welles' Brutus.
  • Joseph Cotton, played by James Tupper (LOTS of TV), who is Publius in this legendary production.
  • Gretta Adler, a fictitious character played by Zoe Kazan ("It's Complicated"), a young woman whose goal is to publish an article in the New Yorker magazine.
  • Sonja Jones, probably fictitious, ambitious and worldly as played by Claire Danes ("Shopgirl"), she helps our hero (see below) learn about the big, bad city.
  • Richard Samuels, another probable fiction, played by Zac Efron ("17 Again"), a high school student who samples life upon the wicked stage.

I spent most of my time trying to identify who each actor portrays, as the topic of the Mercury is a fascinating one for a person who loves theatre. The story itself seems to be a vehicle for Efron, although all the actors do a commendable job. I could only pity anyone who had the honor/ horror of working with Welles...