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Is that your knife in my back?: “All About Eve” at Sierra Cinemas

John Deaderick
Special to The Union
Gillian Anderson stars in "National Theatre Live: All About Eve."
Submitted Photo


WHAT: Sierra Cinemas Presents National Theatre Live: All About Eve

WHEN: Wednesday, April 17, 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Sierra Cinemas, East Main Street, Grass Valley

TICKETS: $18 Adults, $15 Seniors, Children 12 and under & students with ID; Available online at http://www.sierratheaters.com or at the Sierra Cinemas Box Office

INFO: http://www.sierratheaters.com, 530-477-9000

Broadway superstar Margo Channing has reached the age where she thinks she may be over the hill, with her future on the stage less than secure.

In walks superfan Eve Harrington who quickly becomes Margo’s secretary, confidante, and eventual understudy.

The 1950 film “All About Eve” gave star Bette Davis one of the greatest opportunities of her career, and she certainly made the most of it. The film was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, winning six, including Best Picture and Best Director for Joseph Mankiewicz. It was the only film in Oscar history to receive four female acting nominations: Davis and Anne Baxter for Best Actress; Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter for Best Supporting Actress. Alas, none of them won.

The film is very much of its time, when Broadway was the home of serious American dramatic art with its own coterie of working actors rather than the site of revamped Disney musicals starring your TV favorites as it has largely become.

Enter Gillian Anderson, former TV favorite from “The X-Files” in director Ivo van Hove’s new adaptation of the legendary film.

Enter Gillian Anderson, former TV favorite from “The X-Files” in director Ivo van Hove’s new adaptation of the legendary film. American actress Anderson has reached well beyond her TV origins to become a fixture of the British stage and screen. She tackled Blanche in an National Theatre Live’s “A Streetcar named Desire,” Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations,” and Lady Dedlock in “Bleak House.” Clearly, she is an actress not afraid of treading on the heels of the greats preceding her.

Davis, certainly a hard act to follow in this Mt. Everest of a role, sits squarely in the sights of Anderson, who inhabits Margo Channing with swagger and no lack of style. Her performance is bravura, relentless, magisterial. Brilliant also are Monica Dolan as Margo’s friend Karen and Julian Ovenden as Margo’s director and lover Bill Sampson. Stanley Townsend’s Addison De Witt drips the same slime that won George Sanders his Supporting Actor Oscar in 1950. I found Lily James as Anne Baxter’s Eve a trifle breathy, quivery, obvious.

The current version, like its source, is also of its time, our time, with our obsessive celebrity-watch cultural fixation. The masterful setting makes use of live onstage video projection adding both dimension and intimacy to this extraordinary production. A projected image of Margo Channing in the mirror must be seen to be believed. Wow. It stunned. This stylistic, larger than life show about larger than life show people never lets go once it hits its stride. I loved it. Go.

John Deaderick is a local theatre artist and author of “Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis,” available at Amazon.com.


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