Review: All About Eve, at Noel Coward Theatre
Lily James and Gillian Anderson star in intriguing but fairly lightweight production based on the classic 1950 movie
21 February, 2019 — By Catherine Usher
Lily James and Gillian Anderson in All About Eve. Photo: Jan Versweyveld
STARRING Mamma Mia! 2’s Lily James and X Files lead Gillian Anderson, All About Eve is a dazzlingly glamorous production that clearly aims to entice movie-lovers into the West End.
Indeed, the show, based on the classic 1950 movie, has a very filmic quality, constantly revealing close-ups of the leading ladies’ faces on a huge screen above the stage. A great deal of time and energy has gone into creating the innovative set, which has echoes of the opening scenes of the Michael Keaton film Birdman.
Having experienced an enduring run of being the nation’s darling herself, it’s unimaginable that James has much experience of waiting in the wings, but she does a convincing job of biding her time as the plotting understudy, Eve Harrington.
Anderson is also extremely convincing as the jaded leading lady, Margo Channing, who hardly dares to admit that she might be 50. She fears she is past her best both professionally and personally and is pushed to the edge as Eve infiltrates her career and her private life.
The story doesn’t present a very flattering perspective of women, although it could be argued that it serves as a judgement merely about actors and how cut-throat showbusiness is. But, whereas the men in the story generally seem emotionally weak, the women are either being devious, paranoid or a combination of both
Along the lines of high-profile West End shows such as Fatal Attraction and The End of Longing, this is the kind of production that is created to entertain fans of star names – it’s amusing and intriguing but fairly lightweight.
The incredible supporting cast work tirelessly to create a convincing, engaging atmosphere – particularly Monica Dolan as the capable Karen and Julian Ovenden as amiable Bill – but ultimately it suffers from a disappointing dose of style over substance.
Until May 11
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