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Bette and Joan - The Final Curtain (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Joan Crawford (Sarah Toogood) is sent by gossip mongers Hedda Hopper and Luella Parsons to fetch Bette Davis (Sarah Thom) over to the afterlife as she is fifing. Or least Hopper and Parsons believe she is. Davis is not a willing accomplice and refuses to come quietly and her last night of life in her bedroom proves to be a rollercoaster ride through the past with Crawford and Davis revisiting their childhoods, their past relationships and other dark secrets long hidden by the studio and in the passage of time.  

Toogood and Thom play all four roles; Crawford/Parsons and Davis/Hopper respectively with great ferocity and wit.  Hopper and Parsons only ever appear on grainy film as they are in the afterlife and can only communicate with Joan over the phone which provides great opportunity for much hilarity.

However, at times the sound quality of the two old battleaxes on film is too poor to make out what they are saying and occasionally they overstay their welcome and are given too much stage time. Both performers' portrayal of the two Hollywood greats though are much more successful and they display great comic timing and use physical comedy in a way that enhances the show rather than detracts from it. Some of the scenes are so heavily laced with pathos that they are literally eye wateringly funny which is greatly appreciated by the audience and produce some fantastic moments.

A special mention has to be given to Elena Pena’s sound design and to the stage manager for hitting all the cues using some of the best quality sound effects I have heard for a long time.  

At times a little confusing and often a touch too repetitive, Foursight Theatre have a little cracker on their hands here that simply cannot fail but bring a smile to people’s faces.

- Ruth Lovett


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