chew up the scenery



  • A phrase meaning to overact. It originally appeared in a 1930theater review by Dorothy Parker (1893 - 1967), the US writerand wit, who described one actor as "more glutton than artist...hecommences to chew up the scenery." When the director HaroldFrench saw Rex Harrison in Heroes Don't Care (1936), he commented:"I thought he did chew up the scenery a bit that night, probablythe overconfidence of an actor knowing the run is nearing its end."The phrase has now entered the general language, meaning to dramatizeevents or oneself inappropriately.