It's been a week of surprises in theatreland.
Following hot-on-the-heels of the National's announcement for Great Britain, a play about phone-hacking that had been rehearsed on the sly, came the announcement from Theatre Royal Bath Productions that this Autumn they are reviving David Mamet's satire on Hollywood Speed the Plow and casting Lindsay Lohan.
But unlike the announcement from the NT, this was not greeted with excitement but with trepidation for Lindsay Lohan's reputation is more linked with that of troubled star rather than acting professional.
Director Lindsay Posner didn't exactly allay fears either with his comments that he will "cast to the hilt" around Lohan, a comment that has been interpreted that perhaps the box-office draw will need propping up in some way.
It's sad that it has come to this though as Lindsay Lohan really did have great potential. She was more than just a competent actress when she was young. She was bright, sparky and showed plenty of signs that she would make that transition from child star to adult actress with ease.
But it wasn't to be. Instead, with addiction issues, family break-ups, courtroom dramas and stints in rehab, she has become tabloid fodder, more likely to make headlines for her ongoing feud with Paris Hilton rather than critical acclaim for acting performances.
I am on Lindsay Lohan's side. I really do want her to succeed. But plenty feel that way and many have tried to give Lindsay another chance only to find themselves left high and dry.
The most recent attempt was earlier this year from the Queen herself - Oprah. She commissioned a reality TV show that would follow Lindsay as she tried to settle down and rebuild her life in New York.
The result was a disaster. Lindsay couldn't even do three days in a row let alone three months. She was routinely late or a no-show. Exasperated, Oprah herself tried to intervene, offering Lindsay the alternative of just dropping the show.
Lindsay, as desperate for money as she was work, promised to commit. But she was just unable to do this and the show was cancelled.
And that was just a couple of months ago.
And that was a reality TV show. A three-month theatrical run is a completely different proposition. The schedule cannot revolve around Lindsay's issues - the commitment is to the schedule and to the audience to ensure that a high-quality production is delivered night after night after night.
The sweepstakes have already started. How many performances will Lindsay actually make? Will the show even complete its run?
And the questions are already there - if Lindsay is the big draw, will there be refunds for the nights if/when she doesn't show?
It's a big risk for any production company to take on Lindsay Lohan. And part of me fears the cash cow element to this - that Lohan has been hired for the money, for the curiosity factor, just to sell tickets.
Certainly that is backed up by the eye-watering ticket prices. Tickets START at £25 and go all the way up to £125 for premium seats. £125. Just to put that in perspective, that's twice what it cost me to see Kevin Spacey in Clarence Darrow. And I was in the third row at the Old Vic for that. In fact, thinking about it now, I saw Kevin Spacey in Speed the Plow for less than that.
For £25 you get restricted leg room up in the Gods. But even the ticket prices in-between are not desirable. £50 and you can get restricted view in the Dress Circle. If you just want to be able to SEE the show in some relative comfort, your cheapest ticket price is £60.
£60. To see someone who may or may not appear.
In my opinion, not only does this therefore make it obvious this is a money-grab (Speed the Plow should not an expensive play to produce) but it heaps the pressure on Lindsay even more. It raises the stakes, the repercussions, of a non-appearance.
I want this to work, I really do. But I have my doubts. There are no signs that Lindsay Lohan is actually able to withstand the rigours of a West-End run, let alone one that will be scrutinised by the UK's press. I fear that the pressure could just be too much.
Poster Image © Theatre Royal Bath Productions
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