City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Bette Davis Ain't For Sissies Review

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 26 August 2013

Jessica Sherr as Bette Davis
Show details
Running time: 
Jessica Sherr (Writer), Janice Orlandi (Director)
Jessica Sherr (Bette Davis)

Bette Davis, the legendary movie actress who famously commented “I will never be below the title!”, was an Oscar-winning superstar.

This glittering, glamorous show reveals the truth, the gossip and the sheer talent of the lady who was determined to succeed from Broadway stage to Hollywood fame.

Upstairs at the Fiddler’s Elbow pub, an elegant salon lined with mirrors and wall lamps has become the ideal stage set – a hotel suite with coat stand, table, chair, gold telephone, glass, whiskey decanter.

From behind a screen in an adjoining room, Ms Davis enters with a majestic stride, wearing a shimmering turquoise evening dress, silk gloves, diamante necklace, her chestnut hair flowing in ringlet curls.

The audience gasps in amazement at Jessica Sherr’s striking resemblance – the profile, eyes, nose and the deep, clipped tone of voice.

Sounding harassed, she explains she has had to leave the Academy Awards ceremony, too upset, too jealous that Vivien Leigh will receive the Oscar for best actress as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.

The play is set in 1939 and focuses on a critical time in her dazzling career, having already received two Oscars for the movies, Dangerous and Jezebel.

This hour we shall share in her company is a chance for reflection over her life in Hollywood. Through anecdotes and reminiscences she paints a powerful, passionate portrait of the actress - the public face and her private self.

It was in 1930 when she was spotted by a talent scout on Broadway and hired by Universal Studios. We hear about her awkward arrival in LA with her mother and dog - the studio representative sent to the station failed to find her, because he could see no one who looked like a movie star!

That would soon change given the Hollywood treatment - screen tests, (“no chemistry!”), 48 takes filming an entrance, the directors, the dream roles. She could never be a typical tall, blonde movie star, so she made her name portraying raw, ballsy, bitchy heroines.

Each perfectly choreographed scene is beautifully performed and directed, as Bette slinks around in her red BD monogrammed dressing gown, smoking, sipping whiskey, phoning her mother for moral support.

Film music and actual excerpts from her movies brilliantly creates the authentic period ambience. Even the gloves belonged to Bette !

“In my view, she was one of the all time great movie stars. I thought she was a great beauty too. I just loved her look”. Lauren Bacall.

In this intimate one woman show, Jessica Sherr perfectly captures the look, voice, wit, humour and mannerisms of Bette’s bold, brash, brave personality with sophisticated style.

But she also shows her vulnerability, a glimmer of fear, the agony of failure, lurking behind the actress’s tough mask.

Jessica Sherr in “Bette Davis ain't for Sissies” enjoyed a fabulously successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and now deserves to go on the road - next stop should be the West End, London and then Broadway, New York!.

Show times: 3 - 24 August, 2013, 12.45