Claudio Macor’s play is a sensational piece of theatre. The Tailor-Made Man tells the story of William ‘Billy’ Haines who despite threats of complete ruin and scandal defied the studio system of 1930’s Hollywood and remained truthful to himself and his sexuality – along with his lover Jimmie Shields. After being a famous movie star Haines went on to set up an interior design business to the stars which still thrives to this day.
It’s very evident that Macor has a passion for Haines’ story. Characters have been well researched which gives this beautifully constructed piece real credence and value. There is superb casting in this 25th anniversary production most notably in Mitchell Hunt as Haines and Tom Berkeley as Shields. Their chemistry on stage is electric and particularly Hunt as his dashing matinee idol looks so fit the bill. With the clever use of the movie terms “cut” and “action” to stop and start each segment, the story is kept moving by Bryan Hodgson whose vibrant skill as a director is never in question.
A special mention has to be made of Dean Harris who plays the tyrannical Louis B Mayer with such an astute understanding of the character. This is an informed observational interpretation of the man behind the menace – and also gives us a timely reminder of the past as today’s stories of harassment come out of Hollywood.
This is a great tale, magnificently performed and is a ‘modern’ love story ahead of its time. It tells how self preservation is a quality worth fighting for. A bygone era brought to life with true flair and love.
Photos by Andreas Lambi.