Jack Garner: 'Me and Jezebel' delightful

05:00 AM, Oct 26, 2013

Tom Smalley and Ed Popil star in Me and Jezebel at Blackfriars. (DAN HOWELL)/


Written By Jack Garner

Blackfriars’ current production, Me and Jezebel, is delightful and very funny — and a rather unique piece of theater.

The true story seems to take its cue from The Man Who Came to Dinner. There was a time, during a Manhattan hotel strike in the mid-’80s, when Bette Davis came to dinner at a female fan’s Connecticut home … and then stayed for a month.

The premise of the story, written by the Connecticut housewife, Elizabeth Fuller, suggests that it may seem exciting to entertain your show-biz idol in your home. But for a month? After all, Davis was considered one of the most doggedly difficult and irascible people in Hollywood history.

Me and Jezebel is currently off-Broadway, and wherever it is produced, Davis is usually played by a drag queen. The difference at Blackfriars is that the other character, the homeowner/fan, is also played in drag.

Cast in the play are Tom Smalley as Davis and Ed Popil as Fuller. The actors also make up the drag queen duo of Aggy Dune and Kasha Davis, who perform as the Big Wigs for philanthropic causes and in original shows (usually all sold out).

The production, directed by John Haldoupis, works marvelously, creating a rare hybrid of conventional narrative theater (with full-blooded characters) and the drag queen tradition.

Popil is quite good as Fuller. Being male, Popil also makes the deeper voice of the husband more believable when it (the voice, not the character) makes occasional appearances in the play. Smalley, meanwhile, is truly astonishing as Davis.

Me and Jezebel continues at 2 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.