Bette/Cavett preview

This article is from 2010

Bette/Cavett preview

70s television and Holywood royalty come to the stage in Grant Smeaton’s acclaimed show

When you go to the theatre – unless you’ve bought tickets for a multimedia extravaganza – you don’t generally expect to watch television. So you might be surprised at being pulled through the TV screen to become part of the live studio audience watching 70s talk show host Dick Cavett interrogate the late and ever-great Bette Davis in Grant Smeaton’s verbatim show, Bette/Cavett. In the play, as in the original interview, a feisty and sincere Davis talks frankly about her life and career while Cavett lives up to his status as a 70s household name, drawing confessions from his guest with a persuasive charm.

A fan of Bette Davis, and also of the show’s 70s era, Smeaton breathes life into the television footage to bring it on to the stage. ‘There was definitely an element of experimentation,’ he says. ‘Television is such a big part of all our cultural life and I think just taking a bit of TV and putting it on stage is quite an unusual kind of thing and I just wanted to know if it could work in that setting.’ The experiment paid off, receiving glowing reviews during its debut at Glasgay! last year.

‘I think as soon as you get the costume on it kind of takes over. There’s something about that whole iconic look and I think it’s just about getting the drive, it’s like a possession almost.’ The show uses the original interview script (complete with authentic 70s ad breaks), and Smeaton stresses that while it captures the spirit of Davis and Cavett it is not just a reflection or an impersonation; it is a performance that he and Mark Prendergast (who plays Cavett) have made their own. Fasten your seatbelts: it’s going to be a unique night at the theatre.

Zoo Roxy, 662 6892, 8–30 Aug (not 18), 3.05pm, £11 (£9). Previews 6 & 7 Aug, £8.


  • 4 stars

1971. The dawn of the decade of trash. She's the 63-year-old Queen of Hollywood. He's the host who gets the guests his rivals can't get near. Meet Bette Davis. Meet Dick Cavett. Using verbatim text and studded with some hilarious 70s commercials, 'Bette/Cavett' re-imagines one of the most candid TV meetings of all time…


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