All About Eve - Review
London's West End: where the magic and glamour of the theatre collide with England's busy capital. I had visited the West End a couple of times to lose myself in the many musicals that it has to offer. But I'd never seen a play. And what better way to introduce me to this new world than the masterclass that is All About Eve?
Adapted from the 1950 Academy-award winning film of the same name, Gillian Anderson stars as superstar Margo Channing whose world is turned upside down when avid fan Eve Harrington (Lily James) walks into her dressing room during a per chance meeting. From here, Eve begins to climb as Margo starts to fall, presenting a twisted tale of showbiz and obsession.
When you've got huge names like Gillian and Lily as the two starring roles, you can't help but expect nothing less than excellence. And that certainly was the case. As a huge Lily James fan, it was absolutely unbelievable to get to see her perform. Lily has such a fantastic energy and charisma which was exonerated as she gushed and fawned over Margo during the play's first half. But as Eve began to evolve and the story started to turn, James perfectly portrayed the character's unhealthy obsession to grow into the idol that she once admired. The scene at the mirror where she morphed into Channing was completely harrowing. However Lily has such talent that you got goosebumps. I especially got chills near the end of the play when Eve sits at the piano and softly performs alone (or so we think). It was raw and full of powerful emotion - you couldn't help but watch in absolute reverence.
And what can you say about Gillian Anderson? Gillian is just astonishing. She superbly presented Margo's flamboyant persona as she succeeded and her fragility as her authority started to fade. You laughed as she drunkenly sat lulling along to the music of her piano. And you felt her sentiment as she apologised for her past mistakes and accepted her broken character. Plus, she looked absolutely drop-dead gorgeous as she graced the stage in every glamorous gown, accompanied with an array of jewels and baubles to match. Both ladies were just sensational and I was completely in awe as I sat in my balcony seat watching from way up above. I only wish I could have congratulated them on such exceedingly excellent acting.
I must take some time to mention the staging and technical side of the performance also. This play proved that we really are living in age of constant technology when DeWitt's opening monologue was filmed with a Steadicam and broadcast on a projector screen, as well as two TV screens that sat atop the stage. And the use of Steadicams to present stunning cinematography was featured throughout the play as a way to expand the minimalist set and immerse those watching into the events happening "off-stage". A very intelligent and creative decision by director Ivo van Hove and Chris Bartlett. And one prop that we must discuss was the dressing room mirror. It appeared as a very typical vanity mirror but when Margo sat down to take off her makeup and her bare face was suddenly plastered on every screen, you knew that this unconventional feature was going to be used for different occasions.
I'd never seen anything like it. The choice to endorse a way in order for audience to see the character's emotion from a much closer perspective was just so clever. It also exemplifies the true talent of the actors: to be able to express that vulnerability so easily. Myself and others really were transported further into the world of the narrative despite the use of a singular, square carpeted box that altered from setting to setting as different cast members arranged velvet furniture and elegant accessories.
In all its glory, All About Eve is an experience. With a stellar supporting cast, that I can't forget to mention, and a slightly aged story that has been adapted for a 21st century audience, you must go see this play while you can. It really is something that you can proudly announce to family, friends, co-workers, etc. when you say "I was there". I thank my lucky stars that I got the chance to see the masterful performances of Gillian Anderson and Lily James in all of their utterly talented brilliance.
All About Eve is playing at the Noël Coward Theatre till the 11th May 2019.