A Critic’s Notebook: Misfits and legendary children

Payne’s play opens as Atlanta’s Legendary Children head to Savannah


If there were a media list of “Atlanta artists most likely to be included on a lot of media lists this year,” playwright Topher Payne would definitely be on it. We’re only about a week in, and he’s already got a pretty good start. Payne is, of course, the cover star of Creative Loafing’s 20 People to Watch in 2014 issue, and his new play The Only Light in Reno, opening tomorrow at Georgia Ensemble Theatre, also makes our list of Top Arts Events for January.

The new show is based on real events which brought together Liz Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Montgomery Clift for one night of debauchery in a hotel room in Reno, Nevada during the troublesome and much delayed filming of Monroe’s last film The Misfits. Anyone familiar with Payne’s work will recognize right away what an intriguing and promising match of writer to subject this all is, and we’re very much looking forward to opening night.

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An added bonus is that the production has resulted in a fantastic opportunity to see The Misfits on the big screen. The 1961 film, which was written by Monroe’s then-husband, famed playwright Arthur Miller, and directed by John Huston, also stars Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift. In the movie, Monroe plays a recently divorced woman who begins to spend her time with an aging cowboy (Gable) and his friend (Clift) in the Western Nevada desert as they hatch a plan to capture wild horses for profit. Although the film was not a hit when it was first released, it has since undergone re-consideration and re-evaluation and now (not unlike Payne himself) makes frequent appearances on many media lists.

The Misfits screens on Mon., Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the Aurora Cineplex in Roswell. Tickets are $10. The event includes a Marilyn Monroe costume contest before the screening. Payne’s play The Only Light in Reno opens at Roswell’s Georgia Ensemble Theatre on Jan. 9, and runs through Jan. 26. For more information on both events, visit Georgia Ensemble Theatre.


Speaking of ones to watch, Kryean Kally is headed to Savannah this week. Drag queen Kally was likewise one of CL’s 20 to Watch this year, and she was also on the cover of the October arts issue. The article by art critic Cinque Hicks focused on the controversial exhibition Legendary Children in which five Atlanta artists photographed the city’s unconventional, up-and-coming young drag queens, including Kally.

The photos and the queens themselves are hitting the road for a Legendary Children exhibition and performance on Thur., Jan. 9, at Savannah’s Dollhouse Productions. The evening features performances by Kally, Brigitte Bidet, Cayenne Rouge, Ellisorous Rex, Lavonia Elberton, Mo’Dest Volgare, and Violet Chachki, as well as the work of photographers Blane Bussey, Jon Dean, Blake England, Kevin O, Matthew Terrell, and Maggie Towe. We love Savannah, and we know how that town loves its drag, so we have a feeling the whole event will be pretty legendary.