Review: What the Heart Wants

There is little of value in this questionable production

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 Aug 2022
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Fest magazine

In 1992, writer/director Woody Allen and his wife Mia Farrow were divorcing when their seven-year-old child Dylan accused Allen of sexually assaulting her. By then, Allen had begun a relationship with Farrow's 19-year-old daughter from her previous marriage, Soon-Yi. In this imagined premise by Bert Tyler-Moore, Frank Sinatra takes umbrage with Allen's predation and paedophilia, and pays him a visit to teach him a lesson.

But the execution of this premise is both morally dubious and largely unfunny. Though Frank consistently tries to convince Woody that what he's done is wrong, Woody refuses to accept this. Woody's insistence may be factually accurate, but that it is a debate worth staging is questionable. A subplot where the pair spontaneously decide to make a film together undermines Frank's disgust with Woody, as does Frank's use of whorephobic language. It also doesn't make any sense, and the writer struggles to resolve both plotlines in the end. A few Sinatra songs are crowbarred into the script, but they show the audience that the actor can sing rather than contribute to the story.

The script also doesn't support the actors, nor do the performances work towards redeeming the script. The two actors are more like impressionists, so there's little conviction and no emotional depth. That they are good impressionists is the show's only good feature. They also struggle to connect to the stuffy dialogue and Americanisms. In both the text and the performances, there's little of value.