Cinebra: Glenda & Rita

Last time I looked, drag was a minority sport in gay bars, performed by men in frocks belting out mediocre ballads, lip-synching to pop songs, and generally being misogynistic. In those days, the humour derived from being bitchy, or foul-mouthed. And I hated it. But that was then. Welcome to the 21st century. Welcome to Cinebra: “cinema, but with a bra, cause they’re just as relevant and supportive.”

These are broad, but somehow believable, characters with great lines who have a story to tell.

Glenda and Rita is a movie-themed drag act with a difference and it turns old-school drag on its head. These performers, Alexander Joseph and Ro Robertson, consummately inhabit their characters Glenda Swing and Rita Herringbone. Glenda comes from the wrong side of the tracks, and delivers her lines in a New York accent that sounds like Tony Curtis crossed with Top Cat. Her ‘mannishness’ does not fail to bring Bette Davis to mind. Rita is from a wealthy Jewish family, and is now a superannuated ingenue. There is at least a nod to an early Monroe here, especially when Rita plays her ukulele.

Glenda and Rita were black and white film stars in the 1940s but have had no work since the invention of Technicolor. Clever costume choices, grey and white make-up, and lighting effects combine to give the illusion that they are indeed black and white as they stand on the stage before us. Theirs is a sad story of gradual oblivion. Glenda, now an alcoholic, still believes she is famous (think Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard). Rita has come to terms with the fading of her star. But they face the world together, as friends.

The show consists of patter, songs and vignette sketches that tell their life-story. It has more in common with musical theatre than cabaret, or even drag. These are broad, but somehow believable, characters with great lines who have a story to tell. The humour is often subtle and nuanced, and it doesn’t matter a bit if you know nothing about black and white Hollywood cinema. The songs, too, are lyrically clever, bejewelled with witty throwaways.

Best of all, the performers clearly enjoy working together and redefining the art, and purpose, of female impersonation. This is a worthy, if thoroughly different, companion to their “History Of Horror”. The audience went wild for it.

Reviews by Simon Lovat

The Warren: The Blockhouse

Last Rehearsal

★★★
The Warren: The Hat

FAUX

★★★★★
The Warren: The Blockhouse

Ensonglopedia of British History

★★★★★
Sweet Werks 2

Sary

★★★★
The Warren: The Burrow

Mary Blandy's Gallows Tree

★★
The Warren: The Blockhouse

KING LEAR

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Award-winning comedy duo, the makers of "adorkable" Sophie and Megan in 'A History of Horror' return with their latest addition to the Cinebra anthology with another "cleverly written" and "magically performed" full-length original show. Glenda & Rita are two actresses from the golden era of cinema, immortalised in black and white and struggling to find work in this brutal, unforgiving technicolour world. From "Knowing your Onions" to "The Professional Blues", Glenda & Rita will take you on a monochrome journey from their Hollywood hey-day to their miserable flat in Lancing.

Most Popular See More

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets