Previewed 2 February 2019, Opened 12 February 2019, Closed 11 May 2019 at the Noel Coward Theatre
The West End Premiere of Ivo van Hov's stage adaptation of Joseph L Mankiewicz's All About Eve in London starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James for a strictly limited season
Margo Channing. Legend. True star of the theatre. The spotlight is hers, always has been. But now there’s Eve. Her biggest fan. Young, beautiful Eve. The golden girl, the girl next door. Lifting the curtain on a world of jealousy and ambition - a razor-sharp, unsettling expose of the eternal obsession at the heart of show-business and our fascination with celebrity and youth.
Adapted for the stage by Ivo van Hove from the 1950 Twentieth Century Fox film, starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter, by Joseph L Mankiewicz, based on The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr.
The cast features Gillian Anderson as 'Margo Channing' and Lily James as 'Eve', with Stanley Townsend as 'Addison DeWitt', Monica Dolan as 'Karen', Sheila Reid as 'Birdie', Julian Ovenden as 'Bill' along with Ian Drysdale as 'Max Fabian', Tsion Habte as 'Phoebe', Charles Hagerty as 'Waiter', Jessie Mei La as 'Claudia Casswell', Rhashan Stone as 'Lloyd', Philip Voyzey as 'Pianist', Merric Boyd, Fejiro Emasiobi, Chanelle Modi, Stuart Nunn, Phillipa Peak, Grace Stone, and Michael Warburton. Directed by Ivo van Hove with sets by Jan Versweyveld, costumes by An D’Huys, lighting by Jan Versweyveld, music by PJ Harvey, and sound by Tom Gibbons.
Gillian Anderson is best known for her role as FBI Special Agent 'Dana Scully' in the long-running television series The X-Files. She made her West End stage debut playing the role of 'Melinda' in John Caird's production of Michael Weller's play What The Night Is For at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2002.
Lily James played the role of 'Lady Rose MacClare' in the television period drama series Downton Abbey. Her West End credits include the title role of 'Juliet' in Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford's revival of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick Theatre in 2016.
Ivo van Hove's London theatre credits include revivals of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2016; and Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge at the Young Vic Theatre in 2014 and tramsfer to Wyndham's Theatre in 2015.
When this production opened here at the Noel Coward Theatre in February 2019, Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail said that, "yes, this is event theatre. It has Gillian Anderson and Lily James and it's as cool as chilblains... This is a memorable production. It is done with tremendous panache and it confirms Miss James as a top-notch stage performer, and Miss Anderson as box-office gold. But they should have called it All About Ivo." Paul Taylor in the i newspaper highlighted that "Ivo Van Hove's adaptation is a success, albeit a qualified one... Gillian Anderson courageously takes on the Bette Davis part of Broadway diva Margo Channing. Her performance shows you the desperate insecurity behind these flights of temperament... An impressive occasion and very thought-provoking." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph thought it was "all just rather so-so, efficient and uninspired, even down to PJ Harvey's quietly waily compositions. All About Eve in colour then, but somehow grey. Just About okay." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard explained that, "while the original script's best lines are preserved, this reinterpretation misses a lot of its humour, charm and bite. It's clever and technically accomplished, but between its bracing opening and absorbing final section it doesn't have enough spark." Michael Billington in the Guardian commented that, "for all its skill, I found myself admiring its cleverness more than relishing its drama... we are always conscious of watching a piece of director’s theatre.... in the end, the show remains a clever, mixed-media hybrid that never achieves the emotional pull of first-rate drama." Dominic Maxwell in the Times wrote: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a boring night. Yes, that's a misquotation of the most celebrated line of dialogue from All About Eve, the wonderful 1950 backstage drama that won six Oscars... however, this listless theatrical adaptation by Ivo van Hove feels too much like one long act of misguided quotation... Mostly, the cast is fighting against a muddled multimedia staging that flattens out this witty showbiz melodrama into a kind of narcotised dream... This is what theatre should not be: a paler, pricier version of going to the cinema." Neil Norman in the Daily Express described how "the dialogue is blunted by the languor of the performances and while the lines are still funny, they fail to ignite the production as a whole... But Ivo Van Hove’s interpretation lowers the stakes and robs it of dramatic tension."
Stanley Townsend's London stage credits include the role of 'Sims' in Jeremy Herrin's 2014 London Premiere of Jennifer Haley's The Nether at the Royal Court Theatre and then the Duke of York's Theatre; the role of 'Dr Harry Hyman' in Iqbal Khan's revival of Arthur Miller's play Broken Glass at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2011; the role of 'Shelley Levene' in Sam Yates' revival of David Mamet's play Glengarry Glen Ross at the Playhouse Theatre in 2017; the role of 'Big Jule' in Richard Eyre's revival of Frank Loesser's musical Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 1996; and the role of 'Fluther Good' in Sam Mendes' revival of Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock at the Young Vic Theatre in 1991.
Monica Dolan's West End theatre credits include the role of 'Masha' in Trevor Nunn's revival of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, at the New London Theatre in 2007; the role of 'Regan' in Trevor Nunn's revival of Shakespeare's King Lear, for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, at the New London Theatre in 2007; the title role in Polly Teale's adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, for Shared Experience, at the Young Vic Theatre in 1997, and Trafalgar Studios in 2006; and the role of 'Sorel Bliss' in Declan Donnellan's revival of Noel Coward's Hay Fever at the Savoy Theatre in 1999.
Sheila Reid's London theatre credits include the role of 'Miss Prism' in Christopher Morahan's revival of Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest at the Haymarket Theatre in 1999; the role of 'Mrs Meadow' in Ian Brown's revival of Nell Dunn's Steaming at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1997; the role of 'Beggar Woman' in Declan Donnellan's revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre (now Dorfman Theatre) in 1993 and transfer to NT's Lyttelton Theatre in 1993; the role of 'Thea Elvsted' in Ingmar Bergman's revival of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, presented by the National Theatre, at the Cambridge Theatre in 1970; and the role of 'Flipote' in Tyrone Guthrie's revival of Moliere's Tartuffe, presented by the National Theatre, at the Old Vic Theatre in 1968.
Julian Ovenden's London stage theatre credits include the role of 'John' in Robert Hastie's revival of Kevin Elyot's My Night With Reg at the Donmar Warehouse in 2014 and trnsfer to the Apollo Theatre in 2015; the role of 'Armand' in Jonathan Kent's production of the musical Marguerite at the Haymarket Theatre in 2008; the role of 'Baron Felix Von Gaigern' in Michael Grandage's revival of the musical Grand Hotel at the Donmar Warehouse in 2004; and the role of 'Gerald Arbuthnot' in Adrian Noble's revival of Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance at the Haymarket Theatre in 2003.
"In the most famous line of the 1950 six-Oscar movie, star Bette Davis declares 'fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night'. But this stage adaptation of the dark fable about the nature of fame is as smooth as silk. Gillian Anderson is magnificent as theatrical legend Margo Channing, still wowing crowds at 50, but plagued by insecurity about her fading looks. The viper in her bosom comes in the form of Lily James, excellent as ambitious Eve Harrington, who inveigles her way into Margo's circle, intent on usurping her idol. Ivo van Hoves' edgy production is enhanced by vast video screens and PJ Harvey's subtle score. The brilliant ensemble cast weave a magical spell." The Sunday Mirror
"It’s not all bad, but, unfortunately, the great strengths of this All About Eve are peripheral, while many of the most important elements are rather weak. Alas, one of those elements is Gillian Anderson as the fading movie star Margo Channing. It’s by no means a disastrous performance, but it never really comes alive. She is never funny enough or barbed enough or downright horrible enough... Lily James, meanwhile, as the up-and-coming Eve Harrington, is positively stilted in the beginning, but this ingénue gaucheness is clever and deliberate... Monica Dolan as Karen Richards is also superb, as is Stanley Townsend as the vile, exploitative critic Addison DeWitt... It’s an overwhelmingly stylish production and, as ever, this has both benefits and drawbacks. At times the stage seems just a little too crowded with good-looking people, while you as an audience member, squashed into your tiny little Victorian hobbit seat, feel completely uninvolved... This Eve cannot compare with the old silver-screen version, and doesn’t reinvent it convincingly, either... It may tick plenty of boxes as a modish spectacle, but you want it to be much better as a drama — and, as a story, it fails to grip us. There are isolated moments of intensity, as well as real theatrical beauty, but they all come in the last 20 minutes of a long, sometimes downright boring, two-hour play." The Sunday Times
"The evening is an incredible array of gizmos, effects and camera feeds that make this a theatre-cinema hybrid. The boxy brown set raises thrillingly to reveal a backstage world of brickwork, poster portraits, clutter and lights... It's a show, rightly, all about women. Apart from the two leads there's a really rich performance from Monica Dolan as Margo's longsuffering friend Karen. Sheila Reid twinkles as Margo's impish assistant Birdie... Eve's craving for fame feels bang up to date. But what is forgotten here is a sense of narrative pace. This is more of an essay than a yarn. The evening lapses into occasional boredom - a disappointment underscored by PJ Harvey's ceaseless, wafty music. Thank goodness, then, for Gillian Anderson, who is peppermint-cool, trailing glamour in her wake. It is her class, her gowns, her career that light up an upmarket evening that could do with more sparks." The Mail on Sunday
All About Eve in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 2 February 2019, opened on 12 February 2019 and closed on 11 May 2019