WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHERE? Noel Coward Theatre RUNTIME: 120 minutes (no interval)
WHEN? 9/2/19 (evening), opening 12/2/19, booking until 11/5/19
All About Eve is best known as a 1950 film which won 6 Oscars starring Bette Davis as Broadway star Margo Channing who finds she is usurped by ambitious young Eve Harrington who insinuates herself into the star’s life.
- Read on for reasons including how stars Gillian Anderson and Lily James complement each other
Belgian director Ivo van Hove is renowned for his ultra-modern minimalism and it is a sensibility that is much in evidence here as we see what appears to be almost every nook and cranny backstage at the Noel Coward Theatre with cameras covering the areas the naked eye can’t quite glimpse.
There’s even a visual trick where Gillian Anderson’s cold Margo stares blankly into a mirror and ages visibly in front of our eyes.
For us Anderson’s performance here is not quite so iconic as her invincible turn in the Young Vic production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 2014 but her rivalry and relationship with the unstoppable Lily James is always believable.
The sense of threat that the hotter, younger up-and-coming actress poses to the star is always clear and this unsettling expose of the dark truth at the heart of show business is well explained.
What impresses us most however are 2 members of the supporting cast that leave indelible memories with us long after the final curtain has dropped.
Monica Dolan (so good in The B*easts at the Bush Theatre last year which she also wrote) is perfect as the forceful Karen who brings Eve into Margo’s life and Sheila Reid does a great deal with a minor role as Margo’s maid Birdie.
We even have a reminder towards the end of the show about where the real power in Hollywood lies as Eve’s own vulnerabilities are exposed.
It is this #MeToo moment which catapults what might have otherwise felt like a strong but not especially vital story into 1 which is very much at the heart of how we think about our lives today.