Fringe Review: Afternoon Tea With Joyce Grenfell

Afternoon Tea with Joyce GrenfellPresented by Liz Hirstle
Reviewed 21st Feb. 2013

This is not a case of “George – don’t do that” but of “Grenfell fans – don’t miss this”.

I think it’s safe to say that, from the moment the faint strains of the St. Trinians School Song drifted out from the stage, the audience were in a state of joyous anticipation.

Ms. Hirstle did not disappoint them.

With gentleness and a twinkle in her eye, Ms Hirstle perfectly portrayed Miss Grenfell’s humour. Commentary of her own added to the afternoon treat and, to paraphrase Liz Hirstle , this soupçon  of Joyce Grenfell’s & Richard Addinsell’s works, seasoned by the performer’s reminiscences and life comparisons, resulted in a well presented dish.

Of particular delight was The Nursery School monologue, showing her increasingly desperate disintegration, whilst still remaining ladylike, of a nursery school teacher, of which the infamous George and, possibly worse, Sidney were students.

Favourites such as “ Stately as a Galleon” were not missed, nor the “ Oh what shall I wear?” ditty.

The “now I can see, it’s a picture of Mummy” phrase is a still used favourite of my family, and bought even more smiles to my face.

The show was rounded out by a talented pianist (Esther Marshall) playing Richard Addinsell’s pieces, and some surprise cameos by our maître d, Tony Rowe.

Liz Hirstle not only shares the talent of mimicry and observation that Joyce Grenfell had, and even looks quite like her, but more importantly, managed to transport us to a different era of gentility. We found that the wit has not dated even though the times are very different.

Like Miss Grenfell herself, and obviously Ms Hirstle too, this show was a joy.

Reviewed by Christine Pyman, Visual Arts Critic and special guest Fringe Critic, Glam Adelaide

Adelaide Fringe page

Venue: Glenelg (Oaks) Pier Hotel, 18 Holdfast Promenade, Glenelg
Season: various times and dates to 10th March
Duration: 90 mins
Tickets: $48 includes afternoon tea
Bookings: Fringetix outlets ($2.75 booking fee applies) on line here, or 1300 621 255

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