Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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The Independent Culture

That seems to have been the reasoning behind this musical reworking of the cult Sixties film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, a camp fiesta that mainlines the essence of the feuding silver-screen has-beens Blanche and "Baby" Jane Hudson, immortalised on film by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. But it would take a lot more than this bland collection of songs shackled to the shapeless framework of Henry Farrell's story to be more than a kitsch rubber-necker.

Yet the director Kenny Miller clearly likes a challenge and this production, the opening gambit of November's Glasgay Festival, goes all out in its aim to prove that, as long as you keep up the drag and the Hammer Horror feel, even the dull imaginings of the composer and lyricist, Lee Pockriss and Hal Hackady, can be subverted.

Everything is tattily and aptly downgraded from the blockbusting musical this show was originally scored to be. It's not just that the band is reduced to one man and his piano, a role filled by the multi-faceted musical director, Richard Lewis, or that the range of singing voices is grounded by the classically trained singer Damaris Chalmers as the cigarette toting Spirit of Hollywood. The entire look and feel is a rough-and-ready faded vaudeville of has-beens and never-weres, channelling the darker side of this melodramatic soup on a fantastically claustrophobic set.

High on the towering double-decked rotunda, Blanche (Karen Mann) is marooned in her wheel-chair. Downstairs, sozzled on wine and melancholy, Andrea Miller steps boldly into Bette Davis's shoes in a wonderfully convincing turn as the ageing child star Baby Jane. She pulls off the difficult feat of evoking a curious sympathy, bottle-feeding wine to her Baby Jane doll. She even gives the bland, formulaic songs more panache than they deserve.

But pity poor Mann, who has to reel off a series of sappy and saccharine songs that seem to have been penned from the "Make 'em Weep" chapter of The Idiot's Guide to Writing a Musical.

Main stage to 12 November (0141-429 0022)