Ivo Van Hove’s highly anticipated stage adaptation of All About Eve has opened at London’s Noel Coward Theatre.
From ‘enthralling’ and ‘chic’ to ‘boring’ and ‘gimmicky’, Van Hove’s modern take on this iconic and much loved Bette Davis film was always going to elicit mixed feelings.
Starring Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, Sex Education) as Margo Channing and Lily James (Downton Abbey) as the scheming ingenue Eve Harrington, the first-rate cast also features Monica Dolan (A Very English Sex Scandal, W1A), Sheila Reid (Benidorm), Rashan Jones (Killing Eve), Stanley Townsend and Julian Ovenden (Downton Abbey, The Crown).
All About Eve is booking until 11 May 2019 at the Noel Coward Theatre, London.
Read our round-up of theatre reviews including The New York Times, The Times, Evening Standard, The Independent, The Guardian, Time Out, The Telegraph and more, below.
All About Eve reviews
"Gillian Anderson gives an incredible turn as Broadway actress Margo Channing"
[Gillian Andersons'] performance as ageing actress Margo Channing in Ivo van Hove’s stage version of ‘All About Eve’ is absolutely one of those ‘I was there’ moments."
"All About Eve works terrifically, in part because the cast and script are excellent, and in part because van Hove’s usual box of live video tricks is so apt for a story that always felt half film, half theatre."
"Classic Hollywood updated with technical wizardry"
"Gillian Anderson and Lily James give fine performances but this version of the 1950 film might be a little too clever for its own good"
"This is a show that reeks of chic. Yet, for all its skill, I found myself admiring its cleverness more than relishing its drama."
"a clever, mixed-media hybrid that never achieves the emotional pull of first-rate drama."
"Gillian Anderson is arresting in emphatically successful update of classic film"
"The supporting cast are hit-and-miss, but Anderson and Lily James deliver strong performances in production of Joseph Mankiewicz’s 1950 masterpiece"
"Some of the live film stuff is very funny but it can steal the focus from the principal action. It’s peculiar that because of this, the film’s most celebrated line, “Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy night”, doesn’t have the impact that it should."
"Lily James lacks peculiarity in uninspired screen-to-stage affair"
"Van Hove loves to strip things back, so we get minimal Broadway glamour and bustle – but less eye-catching experimentalism than you might expect. Period trappings are out even if the implicit social landscape of the original remains."
"Anderson, svelte and glowering, exudes first boredom then fear, communicates wariness well with just a poisonous glance."
"there’s a stand-out supporting performance from Monica Dolan as Margo’s turncoat confidant Karen"
"Superbly assured, but it's All About gimmicks"
"Gimmickry can be fascinating, as when Margo’s face is rapidly aged in a video time-lapse. But when done to excess, van Hoveian cleverness reduces the humanity in the theatrical experience."
"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."
"Van Hove’s paraphernalia is there – the cameras circling the stage, the video screen capturing and magnifying the action. But Anderson is a strong enough actress not to be lost in all that. She doubly proves her strength: she is not, like Davis, a swaggerer; she is a scalpel, who does not volcanically implode but slowly peels away her defensive layers. "
"In the title role, James fares less well. She exhibits presence but small range. She is too obviously manipulative at the beginning, too simply nasty at the end; her mouth too constantly on the curl."
"The production is too entranced with glamour to be sinister, the space insufficiently claustrophobic for quarrels to be threatening. There is a more haunting show circling this enjoyable, glitzy one."
"Doesn’t quite reach the heights one might have hoped. "
"Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night," declares Anderson's Margo Channing to her friends, warning of the bender tantrum to come. In truth, the seat belt is optional; those who have seen the film, in particular, may be fine without. While the source material is simply too darn good not to remain entertaining, the adaptation rarely enhances it. As a stage production, it's by turns scintillating and airless."
"Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a boring night... the multimedia staging knocks the wit out of this drama"
"this listless theatrical adaptation by Ivo van Hove feels too much like one long act of misguided quotation. With Gillian Anderson in the Davis role and Lily James as the ruthless ingénue, you’d expect at least some juicy acting to get our fangs into. Somehow, though, the mixture of stage acting and sequences filmed and projected on to a big screen upstage drains the energy from the action."
"Van Hove clings too close to Joseph Mankiewicz’s film; he fiddles with it rather than reinvents it. His best work (A View from the Bridge, Roman Tragedies) is uncomfortably intimate and intense. Here, it feels like eavesdropping on actors recreating a film, not on real people. It’s hard to care for anyone."
"A stylish and enthralling cinematic experience"
"All About Eve is a play which succeeds far more often than it fails; it’s an ambitious and intelligent play, featuring a handful of great set pieces and memorable one-liners. It may not get everything right, but it mostly succeeds in delivering a stylish and enthralling cinematic experience."
"Gillian Anderson makes a cool, contained Margo Channing"
"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. "
"Anderson is cool and contained, more likely to seem brittle than ferocious. This means Margo’s classic line ‘Fasten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy night’ lands without much dash."
"James captures the cloying sincerity that masks Eve’s hunger for fame."
"A stylish but functional production"
"Though Van Hove’s adaptation sticks pretty closely to the original, it strips a lot of the joy and wit out of it. The result is glossy, but functional and superficial."
"The casting of Anderson as Margo is one of the production’s greatest strengths. She is simultaneously brittle and radiant, poised yet fragile, while Dolan, as a woman who inadvertently sabotages both her friend’s career and her own marriage, provides another reminder of what a great actor she is."
"Has a vampire had its way with All About Eve?"
"Has a vampire had its way with “All About Eve”? The anaemic spectacle now sleepwalking across the stage of the Noël Coward Theater here shares a title, characters and much of its dialogue with Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Oscar-winning 1950 film about the glamorous narcissists who inhabit the dark and glittering world of Broadway."
"Yet as adapted and directed by the international auteur Ivo van Hove, what was originally a crackling, high-gloss satire now feels like a horror movie without a pulse."
"His “Eve” is always on the edge of slipping into a coma, taking its audience with it."