Theatre: Glorious

On Monday evening I caught the play Glorious, which is playing at the Duchess Theatre in Covent Garden. The play is based on the last year in the life of Florence Foster Jenkins. Florence Foster Jenkins was a rich woman who staged her own opera recitals in New York in the 1940s. The only problem with that was that she was tone deaf. She also made records of her performances and her album of butchered arias is no doubt the reason for her lasting appeal and the reason this play was made.

Maureen Lipman starred in the title role and was quite hilarious. It was quite amusing watching her antics and the highlight definitely was her recreation of the "Queen of the Night Aria" from the Magic Flute. Florence on record sounded like a strangled Chihuahua and Lipman equally rises to the challenge. She isn't singing Oklahoma here…

In her recitals Florence put on some rather extravagant costumes (that she made herself) and threw flowers out at the audience. She often got so carried away that she threw flowers at audience members with gusto and then threw the basket into the audience. A month before her death she also sold-out Carnegie hall in a one-night-only show that became the stuff of legend. So there was plenty of inspiration for comic material.

In between the great "performances" the script was less interesting and full of jokes that probably played well in Birmingham (where the production originated) but seemed a little bit obvious for jaded London theatregoers. It could have done with a bit of a trim (and maybe inserting another song or two), but it still made for a rather fun night out. The best line was one of Florence's quotes: "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing". Hmm… It was also worth seeing as I don't think it will be around too long. Even though it has had great reviews I suspect it isn't the sort of thing that will pack in the punters…

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