REVIEW: Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies – Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

Jessica Sherr’s 60 minute glimpse into the psyche of Bette Davis is clearly a passion project. However, having done the rounds both off-Broadway and here at the Fringe for the past few years, it is beginning to show some wear and tear.

It’s 1939, and a golden year in movie history, making for one of the most hotly contested Academy Award ceremonies of all time, Bette Davis is riding high after her previous year’s win for Jezebel thinking the golden statue is well and truly in the bag, but the Los Angeles Times has leaked the winners and an English Rose playing a Southern Belle has pipped her at the post. Enraged, she storms out of the ceremony and returns to her hotel room to vent her frustrations. But this loss is just the catalyst for every perceived wrong to come pouring out.

Whilst the premise is a great one, the histrionic delivery, clichéd dialogue, lack of staging detail (hessian eco-shopper and modern coat-hangers) and uneven narrative render it more curiosity piece than in-depth examination of one of the Hollywood greats.

Sherr is undoubtedly talented and fully committed to this project but there’s the over-riding feeling that it could have been oh, so, much more.

Runs until 30th August 2015

Image: Scott Singer

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