Review: All About Eve, Noel Coward Theatre
- Credit: Archant
Gillian Anderson and Lily James give stellar performances in Ivo Van Hove’s reworking of the Bette Davis classic about a scheming understudy
Once again Ivo Van Hove brings his director-auteur bag of tricks to staging a cinematic classic.
But while his previous hit Network left me cold, this reworking of Joseph L Mankiewicz’ 1950 whip-smart comedy is altogether more compelling – thanks to a trio of terrific female performances.
It’s also a timely look at female friendship and rivalry, the burden of femininity and celebrity, and its exploitation by men such as arch critic Addison DeWitt – here a kind of blackmailing Judge Brack of Broadway.
Originally a play - then a film about theatre – it seems apt to see cameras scrutinising these characters and pouncing for revealing close-ups.
You may also want to watch:
Jan Versweyveld’s box set, dominated by a dressing room mirror, lifts to reveal the backstage backstabbing around ageing diva Margo Channing - at one stage her reflection poignantly shows a timelapse of her wrinkling face.
Gillian Anderson’s Margot is world-weary and watchful, the kind of diva who keeps producers waiting, and in the words of good friend Karen sometimes needs ‘a good kick in the pants’.
- 1 Doubling of Covid-19 cases in Islington sparks concern
- 2 Islington man charged with murder of shooting victim Taylor Cox
- 3 'LTNs are killing us': Hundreds of Highbury traders sign petition
- 4 Man in hospital with potentially 'life-changing' injuries following stabbing
- 5 Changes made to St Peter's LTN after Packington Estate used as rat run
- 6 Rise in London Covid rates, but people aged 25-30 can book vaccine
- 7 Phone snatcher admits guilt after robberies in Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets
- 8 Increased police presence in Islington after teenager shot in the head
- 9 Woman, 48, arrested over fatal stabbing of Islington flower seller
- 10 Largest beer garden in North London being built for Euro 2020
Lily James’ ingénue Eve is the seemingly dowdy superfan who worms her way into her life, then into her career.
While possessing a luminous beauty, James is also spot on at suggesting the desperation that underpins the understudy’s two-faced, gimlet-eyed ambition.
Monica Dolan is memorable as the friend who pays the price for failing to spot Eve’s scheming.
And if Anderson lacks the smart-mouthed abrasiveness of Bette Davis, she nails the fear and vulnerability beneath Margo’s hard-bitten carapace.
The abiding revelation as she abdicates her power in favour of loving mutuality with decent husband Bill, is not one of regret but of weary relief at shrugging off the demands of femininity.
Meanwhile Eve now adored, watched, and judged, slumps on her bed as she realises the lonley burden of taking it on.