Carpenter Square Dazzles Audience With “Me & Jezebel”
Carpenter Square is presenting “Me & Jezebel” directed by Linda McDonald through December 16, 2017. This comedy is a delightful true story about a great adventure Elizabeth Fuller shared with her family and Bette Davis during the hotel strike that cast Miss Davis adrift. Fuller was friendly with a friend of Miss Davis and was thrilled to have her bring Bette Davis to dinner. The next day Miss Davis called and asked to impose for ‘a night or two’ and the adventure begins. Fuller turns this exciting event into an amusing little play giving a remarkable and accurate glimpse into the wonderful persona that made Bette Davis great and makes us chuckle perpetually and occasionally laugh uproariously.
We speak almost cavalierly about the success of those grand great actresses of Hollywood and their power to dazzle us as they flicker on the silver screen. That power is real and palpable but undefinable in many ways. These great ladies could act, they are beautiful and they live lives the rest envy, but something else makes them important, makes them forever present. One such is Bette Davis, it is impossible to place her in the past tense, her presence is too overwhelming. By 1985 Miss Davis is debilitated by stroke, recovering from breast cancer and the associated mastectomy but she is most definitely a presence, and one to be reckoned with!
‘A night or two’ at the home of John and Elizabeth Fuller and young son Christopher Fuller becomes 32 long nights and days of wonder and inconvenience. Elizabeth Fuller had always been a fan, and is immediately captivated, but some of her enthusiasm begins to wane as her husband becomes more and more uncomfortable and her son begins to speak commandingly using ‘salty’ phrases learned at the knee of this great star.
We use the phrases ‘feisty and vivacious’ often applying them to aging beauties. They don’t apply to Bette Davis; her personality transcends such trite descriptions. An incredible beauty, Davis is so secure in her beauty that she never hesitates to play unattractive or unsympathetic characters. Her imperiousness is natural and unaffected. Crystal Barby portrays Bette Davis. A daunting prospect for any actress to take on, Barby succeeds beyond belief. She is not ‘feisty’ or ‘vivacious’ thank goodness! Her performance is more that portrayal; she seems to ‘channel’ the essence of Miss Davis in her manner, delivery, attitude and presence. Barby is a beautiful woman in her own right but her natural appearance is completely unique and not anything like Bette Davis. Yet with a little make-up and a great deal of skill Barby becomes Bette Davis with her first entrance and she looks as if she were a twin. She has ‘Bette Davis Eyes!’ Elizabeth Fuller is a star-struck housewife who is quite nervous and anxious to please the star at every turn until even her patience with the seemingly permanent houseguest diminishes. Stevie Michelle Aycock plays her convincingly, occasionally stammering a bit (who wouldn’t) and making the unlikely situation quite real. In allowing Barby’s character of Bette Davis to upstage Elizabeth Fuller at every turn, Aycock is never upstaged herself.
Anyone who has ever loved Bette Davis movies must see this play. The remarkable performances under McDonald’s expert direction have paid off handsomely. Although there is no make-up artist or dramaturg listed in the program these aspects of production are handled with perfect technique. Rhonda Clark’s costume design and properties are excellent; the lovely New England cottage set design is by McDonald. Technically the show is ideally presented as the backdrop to the actors and is therefore perfection.
“Me & Jezebel” is being shown through December 16, 2017. This is a very busy time for busy people, but every admirer of Bette Davis must find the time to see this unparalleled masterful show at Carpenter Square. Besides, parking at Carpenter Square is a breeze! Curtain is 8:00 pm excepting Thursday which is 7:30 pm and Sunday matinees which are at 2:00 pm. The address is 800 W. Main. Visit www.carpentersquare.com or call the box office 405-232-6500 for tickets and information. “Me & Jezebel” is a must, absolute must see experience.