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Bette & Joan: The Final Curtain

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Bette Davis is dying. Or at least, Joan Crawford hopes she is. The ex-'star' – not actress, Davis is very clear on that – has been sent from the afterlife with orders to bring the Oscar-winner back with her by hook or by crook. Bette, of course, has other ideas about kicking the bucket, and the screen icons pass a night together in her death-bedroom that is anything but peaceful.

With a hatred for each other that can come only from oversimilarity, Davis is now the washed out old wreck that Crawford never became. Being alive still, though, gives her the last laugh… for now.

Sarahs Thorn and Toogood (Bette/Joan respectively) have impressive timing, both comic and dramatic, that oils the wheels of this fragmented, time-travelling rollercoaster of a play. Rocketing between quick-witted comedy, teary eyed reminiscing and occasional black-humoured violence, the whole is overcoated with the glamour of Hollywood’s heyday.

Setting is elaborate for a Fringe show. Constantly clever, Elena Pena’s sound effects bring the props alive, and the stage is full of surprises. Cinema is integrated to wonderful effect, creating a 3D mix that ends on a hilarious high.

- Hannah Ewan


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