Hollywood divas Bette Davis and Joan Crawford have inspired more drag-show performances than anybody Ñ except perhaps Judy Garland. Too many of these shows have been chintzy, labored and obvious, but fortunately this one, which features both divas, is a cut above the rest. The clever, literate, well-researched script, by Canadian writer and drag artist Darrin Hagen, includes plenty of lethal one-line zingers, and it’s preceded by a hilarious film montage of Davis and Crawford delivering savage slaps, slugs, shots and kicks to their co-stars. Hagen focuses on the mythic rivalry between Davis (C. Steven Foster) and Crawford (Michael Taylor Gray), egged on by formidable gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Therese McLaughlin) and culminating in the much-rumored war on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Foster doesn’t really look like Davis, but he has mastered her famous mannerisms and pinched voice, and expertly captures the bitter pugnacity of her later years. Crawford poses a greater challenge to Gray, because she was initially less mannered; only as time passed did she become hermetically sealed in her great-lady faade. McLaughlin is a skillful performer, but being blonde and pretty, she’s more like Sheilah Graham than Hopper. Odalys Nanin provides briskly authoritative direction.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: May 19. Continues through June 17, 2012

LA Weekly