A review by James Buxton for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Foursight, Jacksons Lane and Richard Jordan Productions Ltd in association with Assembly and Mac Birmingham present


Bette & Joan: The Final Curtain


Sarah Toogood (Joan Crawford) and Sarah Thom (Bette Davis) in 'Bette and Joan - The Final Curtain

Photo by Robert Day


Performers & Co-Devisers: Sarah Thom & Sarah Toogood


Co-Deviser and Scriptwriter: James Greaves


Designer: Amy Yardley



Jacksons Lane



6-24 Sep 2011



Fresh from the Edinburgh stage, Bette & Joan: The Final Curtain takes a wry look at the deep loathing and professional rivalry between two of Hollywood’s most glamorous icons - Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. No two women could better embody the spirit of the golden age of cinema, yet despite their parallel lives, they both despised each other with vehement passion. In Davis's own words: “You should only say good of the dead. Joan Crawford is dead. Good”

Foursight's production plunges the knife of Bette Davis's sentiments deeper and twists it with sadistic glee, in this black comedy which charts their tortuous relationship. Sarah Thom plays a weary, lonely Bette Davis lying on her death bed, who is suddenly visited by the gloating, ghost of Joan Crawford (Sarah Toogood), intent on taking her to the afterlife. The only problem is, Bette's not ready to die and Joan can't leave till she's snuffed it.

This elegant two - hander wipes the floor with the competition, as Thom and Toogood evoke the melodrama of these larger than life stars of the silver screen. Incredibly well observed and effortlessly stylish, this show will have you in stitches and jumping out of your seat, as the claws come out, for a feud that not even death could put an end to.

Thom in her white nightie and slippers is bitingly sardonic, ridiculing Toogood's hysteria with acerbic wit and hilarious put downs. Thom manages to capture Davis's sensitivity whilst also inhabiting her thick skinned cynicism, as she distances herself from Crawford, insisting she was an actress, not a star. Toogood portrays the femme fatale of the 1930's with powerful poses and bewitching eyes, as she desperately attempts to cling onto her glamour and beauty, the last vestiges of her past life. In black dress, opera gloves and heels she swoons and glides across the stage, enduring Thom's scorn and rebuking her slander with equally caustic one liners.

Thom and Toogood double up as shrivelled, old Hollywood gossip queens, Hedda and Louella from   Hedda Hopper's Hollywood, gossip columnists to the stars. Their shrewish faces are ingeniously projected onto doors at the back of the set, as they give instructions to Crawford on how to get rid of Davis in fuzzy, monochrome transmissions from beyond the grave.

Davis's boudoir is brought to life by Yardley's imaginative set design, which allows the breadth and width of the stage to be fully exploited. From Davis's dressing table to her bed, their feud rages. Yet the real piece de resistance is the use of the projector, which not only includes real interview footage of Davis, but also allows the performance to continue, once the actors have left the stage.

Bette & Joan: The Final Curtain is a highly polished, extremely well observed production which the stars themselves would have relished. Toogood and Thom are in their element, depicting these Hollywood Queens’ flair for drama with exceptional skill and poignancy. As the orchestral film music of MGM studios intensifies, they force each other to come clean about the traumatizing events of their pasts, with terrible ramifications. Yet what makes their rivalry and animosity so intriguing is just how similar they really are. Echoing each other's lives and lines, we see how they were both spurned by their families and maltreated by their husbands, with devastating effects, for at the end of the day, both women longed for the same thing:- to be loved.


Jacksons Lane
269a Archway Road, London
N6 5AA
Box Office: 020 8341 4421
Tickets: £12.95/ £10.95

2 for 1 Weds

Show time: 8PM

Sat Matinee 3PM
6-24 Sep



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