Hitting all the right notes - Glorious!
PUBLISHED: 12:29 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 17:18 16 August 2010
FLORENCE Foster Jenkins was the Jedward of her day, writes Mark Campbell. Born in Pennsylvania in 1868, she became convinced that she
FLORENCE Foster Jenkins was the Jedward of her day, writes Mark Campbell.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1868, she became convinced that she was as great a soprano as the world-famous Luisa Tetrazzini.
Sadly, though, she couldn't sing a note. Lacking any sense of rhythm, pitch or tone, she couldn't even aspire to that famous Eric Morecambe maxim: "All the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order".
In 2005, Peter Quilter wrote a play called Glorious! which dramatised her extraordinary life story.
It was performed recently by the Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre in Crayford, and jolly entertaining it was too.
This was a charming play with an utterly beguiling central performance by Angie Brignell as the delusional star.
It would have been so easy to send the role up, yet Brignell showed us a kind, generous, sweet woman who delighted in pleasing her hordes of loyal fans - unaware of the real reason for their enjoyment.
After a minor taxi crash, she discovered she could hit previously unattainable high notes.
From then on (according to this version of events), she would hit her forehead to help her out during performances.
She also had a coterie of loyal hangers-on, most of them as eccentric as her.
Cosme McMoon provided her piano accompaniment, slowing down or speeding up depending on Jenkins' wayward tempo.
Scott Shearer was delightful as the smitten pianist, whose obvious homosexuality was entirely overlooked by the unworldly singer.
British actor St Clair Byfield was a 'close friend', but the relationship seems to have been purely platonic.
Colin Hill was on fine form as the gravelly voiced thespian, berating the fact that although his accent was his selling point, Hollywood had still not offered him a job.
Claire Kingshott was Florence's dotty friend Dorothy, generally upstaged by a stuffed poodle lying on its back with its legs in the air.
Hilarious as a disgruntled Spanish maid who didn't speak a word of English, Aysev Ismail made 'flouncing off in a huff' into a veritable art form.
And as the New York socialite Mrs Verrinder-Gedge, Tricia Sutton was snootiness personified.
The set, co-designed by director Lesley Robins, was a little too uniform to believably represent three different locations, but its primary colours and well-chosen props were very pleasing on the eye.
A lovely show. Glorious? Quite possibly.