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Me and Jezebel

a Comedy
by Elizabeth L. Fuller

COMPANY : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4894

SHOWING : April 28, 2016 - May 15, 2016



During the New York hotel strike of 1985, the legendary and displaced Bette Davis was invited to a dinner party at the New England home of star-struck Elizabeth Fuller where she stayed…and stayed…and stayed. One month later, Elizabeth, her husband, and young son will never be the same. Based on a true story, this is a candidly funny account of trying to please the irascible queen of Hollywood. The language in this play is as saucy as Bette Davis.

Director David Thomas
Elizabeth Fuller Aretta Baumgartner
Bette Davis Geoff Uterhardt
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Mean Jezebel
by playgoer
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Consider the comic possibilities of a sharp-tongued, chain-smoking, and profane Bette Davis spending a month in the home of an ordinary family that includes an impressionable toddler. Then cast a male (Googie Uterhardt) in the role of Bette Davis and have the real-life woman whose story this is be portrayed by an actress (Aretta Baumgartner) who also portrays every other character in the plot. Now reconsider the comic possibilities, and you’ll see that they have increased exponentially.

David Thomas has directed a splendid production of Elizabeth Fuller’s "Me and Jezebel." The set by Michael Hidalgo uses the full width of the stage to portray the Fuller house, ranging from a kitchen stage left to the guest bedroom stage right, and shoe-horning a cafe table and chairs far down right. The furnishings are eclectic, combining mid-century Colonial, Mission, and other styles in an invisible framework of wood paneling and somehow making it all seem a prototypical semi-outdated mid-1980’s house. Mr. Hidalgo’s sound and light design use varied effects to sharpen moments in the script, and that too makes things seem just right. Add in the versatile and elegant costumes by Jeanne Fore, and you have a mighty good-looking production.

Production values rarely make a show on their own, of course. And here we have two splendid acting talents at the top of their games who DO make the show. Ms. Baumgartner is a delight as Elizabeth, speaking directly to the audience during narration sequences and morphing seamlessly from character to character, even doing a piece of purposefully bad acting in imitating the eminently imitable Bette Davis. Googie Uterhardt is far too tall and hale to physically approximate the frail frame of the aged star, but he has wonderful makeup and nails the Davis style, if not every single intonation. Together, they make every moment of the script come to vibrant life. Voice talents Carl Kristie and Reay Kaplan, heard only in recordings, also do very nice work.

The script hews closely to the real-life, month-long encounter between Bette Davis and the Fullers, sharpening the chosen situations for comic/dramatic impact and sprinkling in lots of Ms. Davis’ famous movie quotes. It all goes down easily. This may not be ground-breaking work, but it provides a surfeit of joyous entertainment (along with clouds of water vapor counterfeiting as cigarette smoke). For any fan of Bette Davis, the show is a must-see; for any non-fan, it’s an oughta-see at the least. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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