Bette Davis Ain't For Sissies
- Lorna Irvine
- 15 August 2014
This article is from 2014
Jessica Sherr inhabits the infamous Hollywood actress at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
It's 1939, and the night of the Oscars. Double Oscar winner Bette Davis has lost to Vivien Leigh, for Gone With the Wind, and she is having a major hissy fit. Initially, this piece seems like an unprepossessing and thinly-veiled tirade against the Hollywood system. But writer/star Jessica Sherr (uncannily familiar in her every pout or raised eyebrow) does something very sophisticated – she metaphorically scrubs Davis of her make-up and gowns, revealing the ambitious child seeking affirmation from both parents.
Never a 'pretty' actor, Davis nevertheless succeeded in the age of the casting couch, which she lampoons by stripping down to corset and knickers and adopting 'pin-up ' poses – she was a real actor with integrity, not a hoofer or glamour girl. Her voice, with a slightly English affectation which could strip paint, only softens when dealing with the romantic relationships which she is failing to negotiate.
Bette Davis Ain't For Sissies is a magnificently witty and touching testament to a woman who refused to compromise. Sherr so inhabits Davis that it is eerie – even wearing Davis' real evening gloves. She is a star in the making, in her own right. Davis would, you suspect, approve.
Assembly Rooms, George Street, 0844 693 3008, 1–24 Aug, 2.45 pm, £10 (£9).