Last Thursday’s edition of The Stage includes my interview with actor and writer Tracy-Ann Oberman, whose second “Hollywood Tale” play for Radio 4’s Afternoon Drama slot airs this afternoon. Rock and Doris and Elizabeth tells the story of Rock Hudson’s public appearance in the 1980s and the revelations that he had full-blown Aids. Jonathan Hyde plays Hudson, with Frances Barber as Doris Day and Oberman as Elizabeth Taylor.
“I didn’t want to be in this,” admits Tracy-Ann Oberman. “I’d suggested Catherine to the producer, I thought she’d be brilliant. But I didn’t want to be in it at all, so I was a bit nervous when the producer came to me and said Radio 4 would really like me to be.”
Oberman is talking about Bette and Joan and Baby Jane, her new play for Radio 4 which documents the bitter struggles between actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during the making of Robert Aldrich’s classic 1962 psychological movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.
Davis is played by Catherine Tate, a long time friend of Oberman’s (they performed together in the second series of the BBC2 comedy sketch show Big Train), with the role of Crawford taken by Oberman herself.
The interview is taking place just after a full-scale photo shoot promoting the play and the pair have been dressed in the iconic make-up and costumes from the film.
It is quite disconcerting to discuss Davis and Crawford with a woman who, her trademark blonde locks secreted under an impressively accurate wig, looks for all the world like Blanche Hudson, albeit one tucking into a chicken salad and sipping mineral water in a photographic studio in west London.