Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quick Hit Off-Broadway Theater Review: Me & Jezebel

Terry Moore and Elizabeth Fuller. Photo: Carol Rosegg
Me and Jezebel
By Elizabeth Fuller
Directed by Mark. S. Graham
Snapple Theater Center

What’s it All About?
One day (May 28, 1985), film legend Bette Davis (Kelly Moore) came to stay at the Westport, CT cottage of writer Elizabeth Fuller (the playwright plays herself) when a strike in New York made it impossible for her to stay at her hotel. 

Davis arrives with a “pot of baked beans in one hand and a cigarette in the other,” and then fasten your seat belts, things get bumpy...

Fuller is thrilled to have her idol come stay for a day or two. She and her grandmother had seen a lot of Bette Davis movies together and having the star in her house is sort of like a sign from her deceased grandmother. Fuller is a little psychic, she confides, and she and David hold a séance of sorts with a Ouija board to contact her and the star’s mother while she’s there.

A couple of days turns into a couple of weeks, much to the chagrin of Fuller’s writer husband, John, who is having trouble working without quiet and dealing with the increase in the cost of living resulting from Davis’ expensive tastes in food and vodka and the many long-distance phone calls she keeps placing.

Their 4-year-old son, Christopher, adores Bette, however, and learns a lot of curse words as he starts imitating her. Davis also is a model for Fuller, who starts smoking and putting Davis’ wishes ahead of her husband’s. Fuller starts to feel that a friendship bond is forming, and that maybe Davis will give her advice about the novel she’s writing, but all that might just be wishful thinking. Davis, after all, is from a different world.

What are the highlights?
Lots of humor. If you have ever had a guest from hell, you will be able to relate. The play doesn’t descend into a caricature of Davis, thankfully. We see some genuine humanity in her, which makes her likable despite the fact that she takes over the Fullers’ home (the stay was for about a month -- she eventually leaves July 2). It is amazing to think that Fuller had the opportunity to watch her favorite movie, Jezebel, with its star. Watching her tell the story in person adds to the show's charm.

What are the Lowlights?
It’s a bit on the long side at just under two hours with an intermission. Sort of like a party story that starts out very funny, but grows old as it wears on. Fuller is not an actress, but we forgive her because she is sharing a personal memory with us.

Moore creates a clipped-speaking, cigarette-smoking Bette, but why use a man in the role? There are plenty of talented character actresses out there who could have created a multidimensional Bette, who would be dynamic, yet feminine – like the star herself.

More information:
Some of Davis’ belongings are used in the play. She left three pieces of poetry in the guest room and these have been enlarged and hang in the lobby of the Orbach Theater. A sapphire and pearl watch worn by Moore actually belonged to Davis. She left it to a friend of Fuller’s who left it to her. The earrings worn by Moore also belonged to Davis and a dress Bette gives to Fuller toward the end of her stay is the actual garment.

Performances: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm and Saturdays at 5 pm at the Snapple Theater Center, 210 West 50th St., NYC. Tickets: and information: www.meandjezebeltheplay.com.

Christians might also like to know:
-- God’s name taken in vain
-- Language
-- Ouija Board

No comments:

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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