Review of All About Eve: the classic Hollywood updated with magical techniques Stage

This is a show that smacks of chic. Presents Gillian Anderson and Lily James. It is adapted and directed by the Belgian magician Ivo van Hove from a classic 1950 film by Joseph Mankiewicz. Mix live action and movies with technical sophistication. Yet, despite all his skill, I found myself admiring his intelligence rather than savoring his drama.

When van Hove and his designer Jan Versweyveld applied similar techniques to Network in the National, they improved the film by emphasizing the transformation of TV news into a branch of show-business. Here I'm not sure what the staging adds to the history of the eclipse of a legendary Broadway star, Margo Channing, by his dedicated disciple, Eve Harrington.

The film manages to be both a satire, a love letter, the hermetic absurdity of the theatrical industry. Some zing and zip came out of the theatrical version, which considers Margo a tragic figure. At one point, Anderson sits in front of a mirror while the make up photo work shows his thin features that age quickly: to another, the camera spits on her vomiting in a toilet bowl while her party-guests do party. It seems more like a film by Ingmar Bergman than a satire by Mankiewicz.

The use of technology is certainly sophisticated. In a famous Stork Club dinner, a fierce meeting in the women's room between Eve and Karen, the wife of a famous playwright, is projected onto a screen as it happens: at the same time we see the subjects of their debate burst champagne down in the stage. But there is a palpable irony about the fact that we are always aware of looking at a piece of theater as a director. This is very much the Van Hove show, while All About Eve describes a lost theatrical world in which sacred monsters like Margo Channing ruled the roost and the writer and director were seen as totally enslaved.

This does not mean denying that the actors do a good job. Although it is difficult to accept Anderson as a beauty that fades, she invests Margo with a slow shame and a thoughtful awareness of her own dispensability: it is less harsh than Bette Davis but more vulnerable in the style of Blanche Dubois of Tennessee Williams. Lily James also captures the mix of fake ingenuity and cunning of Eve and its characteristics light up when the camera approaches.

The most surprising performances, however, come in secondary roles. Monica Dolan is as exceptional as Karen, the watchful civilization in a world of struggling theatrical professionals, and Stanley Townsend is superb as the power-hungry critic, Addison DeWitt, who dispenses his feelings with poison from the steel tip of an aspiring actor. Sheila Reid is an angry dressmaker, Julian Ovenden is a short-tempered director and Rhashan Stone as a naive playwright gives good support but, in the end, the show remains a smart hybrid and media-mixed that never reaches the end. emotional attraction of the drama of the first order.


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