Finely crafted play gives audience a glimpse into the life of a legend

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Reader Christopher Ward watched Dewsbury Arts Group’s performance of Glorious – The Story of Florence Foster Jenkins.

Here is his review:

Florence Foster Jenkins was a puzzle; a strange phenomenon of the 20th Century.

Born the daughter of an affluent banker, she decided at an early age that she had the angelic voice of an operatic Diva and was determined let the world have the pleasure of hearing her singing.

Sadly, not many people shared her enthusiasm – her father disowned her in an attempt to prevent public performances.

“Glorious” tells the story of her fight for attention; a story that reaches the dizzy heights – seeing Florence fill to capacity one of the most prestigious performance venues in the world.

This is a finely crafted play which gives the audience a revealing glimpse into the life of legend. The characters are broadly drawn and the author brings out much humour.

The play is nimbly directed by Margaret Biglands and she has assembled a fine ensemble cast, each one of whom creates a credible character.

At the outset of the play we meet Cosme McMoon, a young musician being employed as piano player to Florence.

Cosme is played by Dan Henry with a flawless accent, witty ripostes and brilliant facial reactions to the antics of his new employer. Next comes Maria, the Mexican maid, played by Maria Bailey. This is potentially a caricature – the maid speaks no English – but Maria gives an unexpected subtlety to the part.

Stuart Marshall revels in his role of St Clair, the English actor chappie who is ‘boyfriend’ to Florence.

Carol Ward gives the role of Dorothy a perfect accent and delightful wit.

Sue Saville brings a forceful persona and a barbed tongue to the role of Mrs Johnson, a lone dissenting voice on the subject of Florence’s singing.

Ricky, the poodle. also plays a key part.

The success of the play depends on Florence and Jacky Fletcher brings a bravura performance to this key role, a forceful portrayal of this eccentric character.

The set makes the most of a space that has to encompass the Ritz Carleton, a New York apartment and a recording studio, all enhanced by clever use of overhead projection.

Spectacular costumes and meticulous props are carefully chosen to evoke a bygone era.

The play runs until the 23rd – see it, and decide:- was Florence really deluded or did she just want to give people a bit of joy in their lives?