Bette/Cavette

4 Stars

****

Nowadays chat shows abound, basically as PR exercises. From time to time an interview takes place which goes beyond the bland and becomes more significant.

The 1971 interview of Bette Davis (Grant Smeaton) by Dick Cavette (Gordon Munro) was one such event. This play is an accurate and engrossing reconstruction. Bette Davis was 63 at the time and a legend of the Hollywood star system. Dick Cavette’s chat show was prime time TV. Cavette’s gentle probing encouraged Davis to open up about her career and attitude to her work in films. Giving the feeling of authenticity, the interview was continually broken up by adverts shown on TV monitors. These ‘messages from your local station’ now look very quaint to the modern eye.

The interview was proceeding well with a good rapport between the two personalities when suddenly Cavette dropped his obsequiousness and asked the question ‘When did you lose your virginity?’  Davis, quite unfazed, answered directly and went on to express her views on sex and marriage. Both the question and answers were daring for that time.

Grant Smeaton and Gordon Munro give remarkable performances in what is a novel piece of theatre.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Zoo Roxy; V115

Dates                                                  6 to 30 August 2010 (not 18)

Times                                                 15.05 to 16.05

Fringe Programme Page Number: 231

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