The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign’s well-researched script demonstrates Hartstone’s genuine fascination with Hollywood’s Golden Age, but fails to reverberate with the audience in a way she likely intends.
Joanne Hartstone’s one-woman The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign is an ode both to the old Hollywood divas, and those girls and women who never realised that dream. Although a well-researched script shows Hartstone’s unfeigned fascination with Hollywood’s Golden Age, the show’s not quite as engaging for the audience (even the big fans of Jean Harlow, Judy Garland and the rest) as the period clearly is for her.
Evie Edwards (Hartstone) is a hopeful actress that’ll take on any job in LA to get a chance of auditioning for a film role. However, as she gets closer and closer to the industry, she finds Hollywood to be anything but kind and welcoming to actresses. It is dominated by rich men who view actresses as sexual objects and will pressure them to risk their health just to fulfil their sexual fantasies – a reality still, of course, in existence today.
The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign’s topical script suffers somewhat from the character at its heart necessarily having to be portrayed as a little ‘mediocre’, or unremarkable, for the plot to make sense. Evie Edwards is told by the leading motion picture mogul that she ‘does not have the star personality’ – and Hartstone, likely on purpose, portrays the part somewhat true to that sentiment. Her Evie is wholly believable as a regular small-town girl with huge ambitions but an average talent. But at the same time, seeing only that – from the only character in the one-woman show – restricts the audience from really engaging after a while.
So whilst The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign tells an important story – and a real one at that, it’s based on multiple real-life examples of women who died for and because of Hollywood – their stories perhaps deserve to be told in a more dynamic and engaging way. Joanne Hartstone’s a talented writer but has here written a character for herself who doesn’t quite have the charm or ‘star-quality’ to connect with her audience.