Review: 4**** All About Eve – Noel Coward Theatre, Recorded Live and screened at Cineworld, 02 Arena @AllAboutEvePlay #GillianAnderson #LilyJames

Tweetingit: 4* Lily James AND Gillian Anderson in one show? YES! A classic Hollywood flick re-modelled for the stage, impossible to resist when Gillian Anderson’s got Betty Davis eyes; coming to a cinema near you. It’s the next best thing to being there!

My first time watching a play at the cinema raised a number of questions. How would the atmosphere be affected; was it recorded in real time or shot with canned audience reaction?  The National Theatre ran a live broadcast in April but this is a recorded version on general release. As a viewer, could I still judge it as a play or a film without the essential live element? It proved to be a hugely entertaining evening; we began with the customary batch of trailers featuring up and coming theatre productions; and a nice touch, interviews with creatives and cast plus a handy background to the play itself. The full two hour play runs straight through without the interval or for that matter the uncomfortable seats.

It seems appropriate that All About Eve the play is being shown at the cinema, as it came to prominence via a classic Hollywood film in 1950. It tells the story of Margot Channing (Gillian Anderson), star of Broadway basking in the glow of adulation. But then there’s Eve Harrington (Lily James), young impossibly beautiful girl next door. The eager new kid on the block is Margot’s biggest fan and soon cultivates a close relationship with her idol. But as the song goes, ambition can sometimes bite the nails of success and has Margot’s crown in her sights. It’s a classic tale of jealously, ambition and greed; the cult of celebrity that can make or break reputations overnight. 

The obsession with youth and celebrity are familiar themes that still resonate today; social media only serves to magnify the insecurity of the rich and famous as they fight to stay relevant. The play is a powerful portrayal of a timeless story but benefits from superb casting and staging. There is a cinematic approach to the production, as images are beamed above the stage whenever a character looks into the mirror. The casting is faultless with close attention paid to the original black and white film. Gillian Anderson has obviously studied the mannerisms of Bette Davis, but is no less entrancing in the role of Margot. Lily James similarly oozes charm as the self-absorbed Eve so memorably played by Anne Baxter in the film.

Nothing could ever match the power and impact of a live performance; but annoyingly short runs make tickets prohibitively expensive or impossible to obtain. A night at the cinema may indeed be the next best thing to being there?

Original Screenplay: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Playwright: Mary Orr

Director: Ivo van Hove

Composer: PJ Harvey

Producers: Sonia Friedman Productions and Fox Stage Productions

Box Office: 0844 482 5151

Details on how to book can be found here

Booking Until: 10 May 2019

Cinema screening: Please check listings

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