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All About Face

[whitespace] The Artfull Circle unleashes their camp sensibility on an obvious target

By Millie

Sending up glamorous movie divas from the golden age of Hollywood seems like second nature to a whole breed of gay men. That queen at the end of the bar croaking "But you are, Blanche, you are!" has made a convention out of once-subversive behavior.

Eve, the Artfull Circle's musical sendup of the classic All About Eve, is Hollywood movie camp done right. But even dead-on camp execution can't mask tired, obvious material.

Eve is the story of Eve Harrington, a small-town girl with a big devotion to a glamorous but aging star named Margo Channing. But Eve's devotion is really thinly veiled ambition. She wants Margo's title as queen of Broadway. Birdie Bob Watt as Eve is equal parts calculating and kooky, a studied glamour mixed with fumbling physicality and hilarious facial expressions.

Margo, played with pure diva nonchalance by Matthew Martin, is currently starring in a Broadway hit. Over welcome-home cocktails for her producer/boyfriend, Margo gets drunk and catches on to Eve's backstage machinations. Margo retaliates with hilarious and vicious one-liners.

The well-meaning efforts of Margo's best friend and an evil critic's manipulation turn Eve into a star/bitch to match Margo. With sharp performances all around, it's all high camp and great fun, even if the songs seem clunky and tacked on ("Inside Me" is a happy exception).

But great performances aside, the whole thing seems a little pointless. Why go through such effort to parody a film that's been parodied a million times? Gay men have been "doing" All About Eve since the damn thing came out 50 years ago. The Artfull Circle folks are talented satirists. With the right material they could be down-right dangerous. Let's hope they unleash their camp sensibility on a less obvious target next time around.

Through Aug. 29; shows Thursday- Saturday at 8pm; Artfull Circle Theater, Lorraine Hansberry Theater, 620 Sutter St.; Thursday $15, Friday-Saturday $20; 415/474-8800.

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From the August 10-23, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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