“All About Eve” at the Noel Coward Theatre, London

Last night, my mum and I tootled off to London to see All About Eve at the Noel Coward Theatre, starring Gillian Anderson as Margo Channing and Lily James as Eve Harrington. The play is a limited run, currently booking till 11th May 2019 (website here), directed by Ivo van Hove. The cast also includes Monica Dolan, Ian Drysdale, Tsion Habte, Jessie Mei Li, Julian Ovenden, Sheila Reid, Rhashan Stone, Stanley Townsend and ensemble.

All About Eve is about a beautiful and highly regarded, but ageing Broadway star, Margo Channing (Anderson) and her ambitious super fan Eve Harrington (James) who insinuates herself into Margo’s life and friendship circle and threatening the stability of Margo’s career and relationships (with friends Karen (Dolan) and Lloyd (Stone) Richards, and with her boyfriend, producer Bill (Ovenden)).

This is a play based on a 1950’s film based on a short story called “The Wisdom of Eve”, and my mum is now on a mission to find the film to see how it compares to the absolutely gripping play we saw last night. It’s two hours without interval and I couldn’t tear myself away from the production taking place. It was incredible!

Gillian Anderson was absolutely phenomenal as Margo, melodramatic with perfectly timed barbs and dramatic flourishes, with Lily James amazing as Eve, with all her faces. I absolutely loved Karen (Dolan), Margo’s friend and the wife of Lloyd the playwright and her relationship with Margo and with Eve. Sheila Reid as Margo’s “assistant” Birdie was incredible. The whole performance oozed glamour and ego and is upfront about what it takes, the price of success. It was powerful, psychological, melodramatic and addictive. I am really glad there wasn’t an interval, because there is no point in the plot I would want the lights to go up and to go nab an ice-cream – it just wouldn’t work.

Beyond the amazing acting and the amazingly timed, dramatic and exhilarating story, I really enjoyed the use of space and technology in creating Margo’s world, and the backstage life of a Broadway star – it was incredibly well done. But if you want to find out what I mean by this, you should go and see what I am talking about, draw your own conclusions. Personally, this is now in my top theatre productions I have ever seen.

Simply put, if you can, please go see All About Eve. If this helps, for UK based peeps, the National Theatre Live are doing a live screening of All About Eve on the 11th April, so check your local cinema to see if they’ll be screening! (I really love the NT Live, as I get to see so much more).

I’m still thinking about whole sections of the play, and I think I will be for days to come. They were selling copies of the play, and I wished I’d picked one up on the way out – I’d love to see how the stage directions worked for this!

I found out after posting this that All About Eve is currently in Previews, and press night is 12th February. I can’t wait to read the “official” reviews!

Bea

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