Glenda and Rita are here to entertain the crowd with their catchy numbers and ready wit.
Both stars of the black and white movies, their heyday was the 1930’s and 40’s. Being monochrome from head to toe, the starlets have found it has been increasingly difficult to get work since the technicolor age came in, only occasionally being placed in student films or art house pictures these days.
The loss of their fame has hit Glenda (played by Alexander Joseph) particularly hard, she is embittered and turns to drink, while her long term companion Rita (Ro Roberts) tries to hold her friend and the show together, with varying degrees of success, as Glenda’s unbottled rage takes hold.
This is a strong performance from Roberts and Joseph (collectively known as Cinebra); the look and style of their characters is impeccably done. Glenda is a striking monochrome brunette, played somewhere between Bette Davis in the classic film, What ever Happened to Baby Jane and Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot and Rita is very much a sparkling Marilyn Monroe type; glamour on the outside, with an inner vulnerability ever present.
The two draw the audience into their crumbling world as they take us on a journey through the highlights of their careers and lives, by way of gloriously created songs and scenes from their past movie triumphs and the occasional flop.
Highlights include scenes from the films “Hey I’m walking here”, a snapshot of period drama where Glenda hilariously plays a duke and piece where both actresses play southern belles; all delight the crowd.
The original songs in the show are fabulous, especially the funny It’s Tough at the Top and The Professional Blues, as well as a touching piano lead ballad sung by Rita about her relationship with her father. Joseph and Roberts’ voices bend really well, they make the musicality seem effortless.
Roberts is a fantastic actor and provides a wonderfully naturalistic performance with pathos and charisma. Joseph, by contrast, has created a grotesque comedy character which brings joy and laughter throughout. Playing opposites makes this act engrossing and delightful to watch.
As the performance goes on Glenda becomes increasingly unhinged and Rita more exasperated with her co-star, culminating in a fabulously funny breakdown in the middle of Glenda’s “Big Number” .
Cinebra have crafted this show to perfection, the characters are flawed and loveable in equal measure. Glenda is a monster but has a tragic background, as does Rita, who has never been lucky in love.
Glenda and Rita’s star may have faded, but Cinebra’s continues to rise with this touching and funny fringe performance; a highly recommended show.
Reviewed on 19th June