- Colin Fraser
NT LIVE: ALL ABOUT EVE
FOUR STARS Aspiring star Eve Harrington has her eyes on the job of Broadway star Margot Channing.
Gillian Anderson, Lily James
In 1950, Joesph Mankiewicz’s film sensation ALL ABOUT EVE won 6 Oscars and turned its luminous star Bette Davis into a legend. His screenplay was subsequently repurposed for the stage and in 2018, directed by Ivo van Hove at London’s Noel Coward Theatre and filmed by National Theatre Live. Starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James, it has lost none of its power.
Aspiring actress Eve Harrington (James) inveigles her way into the professional and personal life of Broadway star Margot Channing (Anderson). At first, the girl seems little more than star-struck and the acerbic Channing revels in the adoration. Yet Eve is a woman of purpose who sees Margot as yesterday’s news while she is tomorrow’s front page. However fame is a fickle mistress. Will Margot fall victim? Is the future really all about Eve?
Seventy years after Mankiewicz first penned his scathing critique of fame and fortune, lies and self-deception, the play feels no less significant nor relevant as it did in 1950. While van Hove’s production is bold and brash (particularly in the delightful use of video that allows us to see ‘hidden’ emotion and through to other rooms), it rides on the presence and power of its leads. Anderson is simply magnetic and repulsively compelling as the celebrity-soaked (and frequently gin-soaked) star, drunk on her own fame. Likewise James as the not so naive ingenue who’s found her cruel yet effective shortcut to the top.
So for now, it is all bout Eve. But the wheel of fortune never stops turning. Something that makes ALL ABOUT EVE as riveting now as it has always been and, perhaps, will always be. This adaptation will keep you talking, a little because of the production and a lot because of the source. In either regard, it's a must see.