Entering in dark furs and dark glasses, Grant Smeaton’s Bette Davis is a diamonique wink to all that the seventies stood for, cleverly manipulating an original interview into a charismatic lecture on celebrity excess.
The hour-long interview covers the insular nature of Hollywood as seen through the famous eyes of its First Lady of the Silver Screen. In a comedy of manner, if not one of manners, the candid Davis discusses everything from losing her virginity to being attack by wasps in Glasgow, sliding down the rose-tinted Chanel sunglasses of our perceptions of “the good old days” and challenging our tendency to glamorise the past.
Grant Smeaton’s Bette Davis is a grotesque spectacle which could only be channelled through a man in too much make-up. Dolled up in deep red lipstick, sprayed with glittering jewellery and with a blanched face to match Blanche Hudson, Smeaton captures something raw and visceral about the ageing Davis, her grand gestures and elegant inflexions.
Alongside every ponderous star, there must be a host with question cards. As the ditheringly charming Dick Cavett, Gordon Munro casually moves aside the fourth wall, instantly creating a casual rapport between the audience and the actors and subtly challenging the great lady for his share of the spotlight.