The Theatuh, the Theatuh – what book of rules says the Theater exists only within some ugly buildings crowded into one square mile of New York City? Or London, Paris or Vienna? Listen, junior. And learn. Want to know what the Theater is? A flea circus. Also opera. Also rodeos, carnivals, ballets, Indian tribal dances, Punch and Judy, a one-man band – all Theater. Wherever there’s magic and make-believe and an audience – there’s Theater. Donald Duck, Ibsen, and The Lone Ranger, Sarah Bernhardt, Poodles Hanneford, Lunt and Fontanne, Betty Grable, Rex and Wild, and Eleanora Duse. You don’t understand them all, you don’t like them all, why should you? The Theater’s for everybody – you included, but not exclusively – so don’t approve or disapprove. It may not be your Theater, but it’s Theater of somebody, somewhere.
Theatre is Evil. According to the new Amanda Palmer album anyway. All About Eve is almost as obsessed with the medium as is the titular character and yet, despite lacking a cinematic flair, deserves its status as a classic film. With a minimalised mise en scene we are drawn to the glowing performers as they deliver the story, its nuances, foreshadowing and irony, guiding our experience of Mankiewicz’s (that’s J.L., not H.J.) excellent script. Despite everything that occurs therein it is an altogether human story, a work of make-believe that grips and moves despite drawing attention to its reality. The cast itself is magnetic, working to convey as much visually as with dialogue.
Up there with Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard – which it beat, I discover, at the 1951 Oscar ceremony.