"deepest respect, sympathy and feeling"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 26/01/18

At the Vaults - theatre well named The P it, it is as bleak and comfortless as an air raid shelter and we sit on wooden benches waiting for the noise of bombs and guns. But into this gloom ridden venue there enters a beautiful woman in silver and sequins singing 'I cant give you anything but love' a perfect beginning to the kind of act she would have done to the soldiers during the war. Into the darkness a touch of glamour which was so needed

.Exquisitely beautiful, intelligent, heartbreakingly tender, and full of anger about what has happened to her native Germany. Marlene's story is like no other. She had been picked at an audition to play Blue Angel in the film . She gives a very funny impression of her audition, singing in a small high voice 'You're the cream in my coffee' Never remembering more than the first few lines and repeating them over and over again. . Nevertheless she got the part, the film was a huge success, and she was soon on her way to Hollywood.

There are many jokes and funny scenes in this piece, but the actor brings out the tragedy of war in songs like Pete Seeger's 'Where have all the flowers gone' . She went out to fight with the GIs, energising and comforting them with her performances.

This is Marlene's story told by an incredibly talented young man who seems to have entered the heart of the Hollywood Icon. She was known mostly for her cabaret stylish ness and her recorded songs 'Look Me Over Closely'. She is the master of jokey sex, known for years as The Glamorous Grandma having attained that stature in her early forties. and lauded by people like Noel Coward and Cole Porter for her continuing youthful appearance.

But the glamorous image was, as she explains, something to please the people and had nothing to do with the reality of her personality. She is passionate, angry about the terrible waste of young men and she is funny, a typical German housewife, sweeping the stage so as not to dirty her pretty dress.

Peter Groom is a brilliant actor - this is no drag act, this is a real character performance. There is no condescension to womankind. He and his co writer Olivier Gully are privileged entrants into the soul of a legend. Bethany Pitts directs perfectly.

The show is an experience and great to see a man playing a woman with the deepest respect, sympathy and feeling instead of as a joke.

It is only sixty minutes long and is absolutely riveting.

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