Friday, April 12, 2019

'All About Eve' by Joseph L Makiewica, adapted by Ivo van Hove

12 April 2019

I’ve never seen the classic 1950 film ‘All About Eve’ so I came completely fresh to Ivo van Hove’s new stage adaptation, which we saw at the Odeon in Milton Keynes in a live screening from the Noel Coward Theatre in London on Thursday. Ivo van Hove is a fascinatingly innovative theatre director: I really enjoyed his production of 'A View From The Bridge' by Arthur Miller (reviewed here in April 2015). His version of ‘All About Eve’ draws on Joseph L Mankiewicz’s film but also on the play on which it was based – ‘ The Wisdom of Eve’ by Mary Orr. The story of an ageing star actress and the young fan who aspires to replace her mostly takes place backstage, in dressing rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. Jan Versweyveld’s set cleverly takes the audience into the theatre’s hidden nooks and crannies, using live video projection to give us access to the most intimate spaces. But in a play about actors, this inventive visual approach rightly feels secondary to the acting, with Gillian Anderson and Lily James giving brilliant performances as Margo and Eve. Gillian Anderson’s world-weary cynical drawl delivery is hilarious and Lily James manages to switch Eve’s mood on a sixpence. I loved the way the height of the two characters’ heels gradually shift, scene by scene, to reflect the growing or diminishing strength of their positions – with Eve appearing to grow taller as Margo literally shrinks. The script is incredibly witty and the plot twists were very satisfying. The original music by PJ Harvey captured the ominous mood of the story but felt a little too intrusive at times. Monica Dolan gave a wonderful performance as Karen Richards – for which she has just won the Olivier Award for best supporting actress.

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