Fortune Theatre Studio, Dunedin

17/09/2009 - 10/10/2009

Production Details

Words are like men, once you get your tongue around them, they’re yours for life.

Gloria is a young, seemingly naïve bored socialite. One night she meets Jimmy, a would-be writer moonlighting as a waiter at her rich father’s birthday party. To annoy her father she hooks up with him in his dingy apartment.

But is Gloria all she seems? And what are Jimmy’s real motives?
Like Hepburn and Tracey in The Philadelphia Story, Glorious is a quick fire, screwball comedy about two people who hate each other, but who are drawn into a sexy and mysterious affair.

Glorious is based upon the ‘Screwball Comedy’ genre that mixed social commentary of the times with a dash of good ol’ slapstick and fun. Most notable films were Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Bringing up Baby, and Tracy and Hepburn in Woman of the Year. They were the basis for the modern romantic-comedies from the films of Astaire and Rogers to The Proposal. Classic screwball often shows reverse class snobbery, to be poor is somehow to be more noble. What’s more, to be rich is to be castigated, passions befitting theater patrons, during the Great Depression.  Screwball demonstrates a skillful blend of sophistication and slapstick. A well written script, laced with barbed dialogue, an overlapping style of delivery, with lines tossed off in rapid fire.

Playwright Richard Huber is an exciting local writer who has created this tightly scripted comedy. Richard has recently become a client of Playmarket, and has created many plays for stage including a film noir piece, The Dangerous Wife and Bruised a Joycean monologue. Both these works were performed at the Fortune Studio and the Court Theatre in 2002.

Richard recently wrote and directed the script for the Son et Lumiere performed at First Church to mark the anniversary of Calvinism in New Zealand. Glorious was selected for Write Out Loud in 2008 and was short-listed for Playmarket’s New Play Award in 2009.

Glorious is brought to you by WoW! Productions in association with The Fortune Theatre. WoW! Productions has been a supporter of New Zealand work for well over a decade, having commissioned Gary Henderson to write Lines of Fire in 2006, premiered Hairway to Heaven by Sarah McDougall in 2007,and having successful productions of Cherish by Ken Duncum and more recently The Cape by Vivienne Plumb.

WoW! is thrilled to be collaborating with The Fortune Theatre on this  production and is excited to bring local, quality theatre to a Dunedin audience.

Director – Patrick Davies is well-known to Fortune audiences as an actor, Patrick  has recently returned from Wellington, where he went to study for his Master In Theatre Arts (Directing) degree and has directed Tom Stoppard’s After Magritte; Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter; three succesful productions for KizStuff Inc.; and recently returned from performing and teaching in Germany, the UK and Romania.

He is excited to be directing this piece, and states:

"It’s not often you get to work on a contemporary script that is so witty, complex and dark, moving easily from satire to physical comedy, and at such a pace to keep the story rollicking along. He has really captured the essence of those movies – two seemingly disparate, strong-willed individuals who spend most of their time bickering and tossing barbed comments at each other when what they should really be doing is… well, you know what I mean." 

Actor Anya Tate-Manning is playing Gloria, Anya recently appeared in Emma at the Fortune. Originally from Dunedin, Anya studied theatre at Otago University and trained in acting at Toi Whakaari; NZ Drama School in Wellington. In Wellington Anya has performed over the last 4 years in shows at drama school, Bats, Circa and Downstage theatre. In Dunedin Anya has performed in productions of Richard lll (Lady Anne), Whaea Kairau (Puawai), and the Fortune Theatre’s own Much Ado About Nothing (Hero).

Actor Daniel Coppersmith playing Jimmy, is new to performing in Dunedin, he is Auckland based and graduated for UNITEC with a bachelor degree in Performing and Screen Arts in 2006. He has appeared on Shortland Street in the role of Jeff Cousins and also in Legend of the Seeker. Daniel has worked on several theatre shows in Aucland ans was resident theatre director at MOTAT museum for three years.

Local lighting designer Martyn Roberts has been nominated 12 times at the prestigious Chapman Tripp Awards for his work. His most recent work includes the set and light design for The Cape, a WOW! Productions work for the 2008 Otago Festival and lighting for the recent Son et Lumiere at First Church. 

Sharon Matthews will be working on costumes and local performer and musician Danny Still will take care of the music. 

"Lord women don’t get drunk, we just get more interesting!" 

Sept 17th – October 10th
Fortune Studio 
8.30pm Tues – Saturday, Tuesday 22nd & 29th Sept
6pm, 6th Oct 8.30pm
Sunday 20th & 27th Oct 4pm,
4th Oct 6.30.

Glorious, like that woman in that film with Katherine Hepburn

Review by Clare Thomson 06th Oct 2009

Glorious is glorious (I promise that is the first and last I will make that joke) and if you haven’t seen it yet then you’re in luck because you still have almost two weeks in which to see it. Yes, I’m starting a review with the recommendation; it should tip you off as to how gushy the following will be, but don’t let me put you off. The Fortune is the stage of only a couple of good productions each year, and this show is one of the really, really good ones.

Richard Huber’s script was shortlisted for the Playmarket’s New Play Award in 2009, an accolade it fully deserves.  Sharp, witty, laugh-out-loud funny: the programme promises a “meeting place between sophistication and out & out slapstick”, and the play delivers. There are so many things I could praise the script for but what really stands out is Huber’s sense of repetition. A preternatural understanding of how many times an audience is willing to hear the same thing and beg for more. And it’s a two-edged weapon. On the one side, it’s a great comic effect. Even the most innocuous phrase is turned into a punch line, though you’ve really got to be there.

If you haven’t seen the play the title of this review won’t make you smile, and you will only look at the page in consternation when I tell you my mother told me not to leave out the bit with the father. She actually said that; “Damn it, Clare, don’t leave out the bit with the father.” On the other side, repetition creates moments of great poignancy.

Glorious is a screwball comedy, where “characters say and do outlandish things”, but it has a deep heart. “Revlon red and moist” is a phrase first met as the slightly repulsive purple prose of a not-yet-failed writer. By the end it is an expression of love, and the transformation works seamlessly allowing the audience to recognise how far the play has come from its beginning.

Such a brilliant script demands brilliant actors and they were found in Anya Tate-Manning (Gloria) and Daniel Coppersmith (Jimmy). One can feel nothing but respect for Tate-Manning who speaks nineteen-to-the-dozen seventy percent of the time, and yet never misses a beat and remains clear and understandable. Gloria is the quintessential spoilt little rich girl who got a pony for her sixteenth birthday and doesn’t understand what is wrong with the poor, but in Tate-Manning’s hands she is charming, fierce, and absolutely loveable. Coppersmith played off her beautifully, and the chemistry between them, upon which the success of the play wholly hinges, felt really real.

It might have been easy to let the words take over the production, but Patrick Davies found a good balance between verbal and physical. Swapping as easily the script between sophistication and slapstick, this play has both the best punch to the face I’ve ever seen and, with the help of Martyn Robert’s lighting, stage images with a moody beauty evocative of film noir. One of my favourite moments was Jimmy leaning against a wall staring at his shoes, washed from the side in blue light, his face half in shadows, like a black and white movie projected on to the stage only real.

The smaller studio theatre was perfect for the intimacy of the play, and still Davies managed to fit two totally distinct and separate locations, without any change in set, into the tiny space. A feat in itself, but it was managed so simply and elegantly, I didn’t notice it was happening until Gloria slipped straight from one to the other as she read the chapter of Jimmy’s novel with their first meeting.

Though at times filmic, the production still played on the strength of being theatrical. My biggest criticism of the play was that Gloria’s dresses didn’t fit her properly. They didn’t, they should have, and it annoyed me. That’s all.

Glorious is a truly wonderful play and unlike a lot of theatre reviewed in Critic you the reader still have the opportunity to go see it. Do. You won’t be disappointed.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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Talking fast, laughing loud

Review by Anna Chinn 06th Oct 2009

New Zealand theatre is big enough and mature enough to look after itself these days, so WOW! Productions – a company that helped nurse it through its adolescence – has decided to take us on a creative vacation to 1930s America. Not cultural cringe, but nostalgia, seems to have motivated Dunedin playwright Richard Huber to pen a screwball comedy, Glorious, and the result is pleasingly assured.

Glorious follows the basic pattern of the genre: two zany characters as a mismatched couple (she more zany than he) spar their way into love, and talk in voices that sound like sped-up crooning.

Anya Tate-Manning, as socialite Gloria, and Daniel Coppersmith, as writer Jimmy, have mastered the accent and peculiar cadence required; really seeming to delight in lines such as “I was thinkin’, I’m gonna get a job – what are they like?”

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‘Glorious’ entertainment

Review by Barbara Frame 20th Sep 2009

Gloria wears diamonds, a Revlon-red satin dress and an insincere Pepsodent smile. She always gets what she wants, sees herself as a Katherine Hepburn type, never shuts up and is given to pronouncements such as "I don’t understand the poor – they’re so needy."

Jimmy, the waiter, is really a struggling and socially conscious writer in the Dashiell Hammett mould. He lives on bourbon, coffee and belief in his own talent, because he has nothing else.

What can the two of them possibly have anything in common?

Glorious is the creation of Dunedin playwright Richard Huber, and it’s been brought to life in the Fortune Studio by WoW Productions and director Patrick Davies. Anya-Tate-Manning, who delighted Dunedin audiences earlier this year as Emma, takes on a very different role as Gloria with at least equal success, and Daniel Coppersmith is Bogart-cool as Jimmy.

The play takes film noir as its keynote and, while respecting the genre’s conventions, has tremendous fun with its clichés: this is the world of hard-boiled wisecracks, palpable atmospheres, sit-up-and-beg typewriters, suitcases in dim hallways, rain-soaked streets and martini-soaked regrets.

The script draws heavily on F. Scott Fitzgerald with echoes of Hemingway and Gone with the Wind, the relentless wordplay owes more than a little to A Prairie Home Companion‘s Guy Noir, and the lighting, operated by Martyn Roberts, contrasts bright spots with darkness in the manner of Edward Hopper paintings. 

Shortlisted this year for Playmarket’s New Play Award, Glorious is shamelessly derivative, very funny and sharper than any tack. It’s more than glorious – it’s brilliant. The season will run until 10 October.
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Warmly affectionate backward glance

Review by Terry MacTavish 19th Sep 2009

“I like the way you hold your drink, and the way you look at me with fascination and contempt.”  Fair enough reason for a beautiful American heiress to determine to marry an impoverished writer.  Well, in the wonderful world of Screwball Comedy at least.  Writer Richard Huber, who lends his considerable talents to a surprising variety of theatrical ventures, has conjured up this enchanting genre for our viewing pleasure, in WoW’s latest offering, Glorious.

Screwball Comedy seems to belong to Hollywood in the 1930s, but the tradition of the sparring couple, hiding their true feelings for each other with witty banter, neither wanting to be the first to confess, goes back much further.  Commedia dell’arte had independent Harlequin courting sharp-tongued Columbine, and of course Shakespeare brought his derivative genius to the party (though Huber’s heroine is less Beatrice of Much Ado, than Helena of All’s Well, in her determination to trap a reluctant male).  Then Restoration Theatre made much of what was cutely called ‘the gay couple’, whose daring verbal fencing was the core of the comedy.

Huber nails the style perfectly: crazily unconventional characters, in a titillating battle of the sexes, complicated by class conflict, and expressed in fast funny dialogue delivered at breakneck speed.  He takes two apparently antithetical characters who love to hate each other, and pops them into a confined space.  The situation is thus intriguing and unlikely, though I wouldn’t describe it as farcical.  Huber makes their rapid-fire repartee absurd but sophisticated, with sardonic humour masking true sentiment.

Screwball is actually named after a type of baseball pitch that is unexpected and confusing, and the zany plot takes some surprising twists.  To annoy her wealthy father, eccentric socialite Gloria announces she will marry Jimmy, struggling writer and part time waiter of German extraction, despite his reluctance.  She moves into his far from glamorous apartment, bearing a typewriter to replace the one she threw into a river, and installs herself on the sofa.  In a bit of class role reversal she even dons his late mother’s pink waitress uniform, to get a job and see how the other half lives.  We suspect Jimmy is not exactly indifferent to Gloria, and sure enough a sweet story of their mutual past is gradually revealed.

Anya Tate-Manning, who impressed earlier this year in Fortune’s delightful Emma, is totally alluring as Gloria, the spoiled, outrageous, but ultimately irresistible socialite.  Gloria likens herself frequently to Katherine Hepburn, queen of the Screwball Comedy, and Tate-Manning actually manages to resemble Hepburn.  Combining sharp delivery with a super-cool American drawl is no easy task, but she succeeds, and her movement is similarly both languorous and sexually aggressive.  Tate-Manning has a winsome ability to be bossy without being obnoxious, and her saucy confidence charms the audience.

As Screwball spotlights the feisty uppity woman, it’s hard for a man who isn’t Cary Grant to make an equal impact.  Daniel Coppersmith, however, is a good foil as the struggling writer obliged to earn the rent as a waiter.  Though passive by comparison with Gloria, he is not weak.  Tongue firmly in cheek, he delivers nice wry putdowns, but is capable himself of the richest of purple prose.  Never has a waitress been celebrated in more lavish and lyrical language.  Actually the pair take turns deflating each other – neither has the upper hand for long.  Sometimes literally: “Our destinies are entwined.”- “They wouldn’t be, if you’d let go of my hand.”

Patrick Davies has long been appreciated by Dunedin audiences as an actor, but fresh from gaining Toi Whakaari’s MTA, he takes charge as Director, and puts a splendid polish on Glorious.   It is by its nature a wordy play, but the lines are deliciously tossed off and the pace is cracking.  Davies knows just when to vary his luscious Noel Coward style with a touch of lively Abbott and Costello.  He has ensured some lovely physical comedy too, as when the couple sit on the same chair (as of course neither will give way), and when Gloria is unexpectedly biffed, or when Jimmy is literally grabbed by the balls.  The high point though, must be the teasing build-up to what may, or may not, be their first kiss.

Altogether the production values are excellent.  Martyn Roberts brings his special brand of magic to the moody lighting, and Danny Still creates ravishing background music, amusing without being intrusive.  Sharon Matthews’ costumes are shrewdly designed to make Tate-Manning look sensational, especially in her characteristic pose of backward curve with hand on hip.

Glorious runs at an hour and three quarters with no interval, and though the actors’ attack is bang on target, in the second half the unrelenting barrage of words causes them temporarily to flag a little, and the audience’s concentration falters.  Playmarket has workshopped Glorious, which was justifiably shortlisted for the New Play Award, and though pruning must have been hard with such an abundance of bon mots, perhaps a little further trimming would benefit the play(What was it the famous director said to the young playwright imploring him not to cut a favourite line?  “Indeed it is a good line, dear boy.  Use it in another play!”)

Nevertheless, it is a delight to relax in expert hands, and surrender to the pure enjoyment of this warmly affectionate backward glance at a delicious genre; to relish the sexy antagonism, elegant inventive dialogue, and gentle lunacy, confident that romance will win the day.  In our gloomy economic and ecologic times, recalling the ’30s Depression, Glorious is just what the country needs.  Thanks, WoW!


Paul McLaughlin September 26th, 2009

I thought my esteemed colleague Mr Roberts had gone to Dunedin, not to the dogs...

martyn roberts September 25th, 2009

woof woof bark bark grrr gnash. Down boy down! whimper, ooooh. Bone! aaaaah, gnaw gnaw chew chew. sleepy sleepy. doze. Have a good one.


Hilary Norris September 25th, 2009

Sorry I trod on your defensive spot John. My reading of your comment was that the first part did indeed ask the question why but then went on to makes suggestions that seemed to me like suggestions to the playwright as to how to improve his play but then brainless sponge that i am what would I know. As everyone says Glorious is great and yay for you Mr Smythe for getting us all riled up but honestly I would suggest that you too lighten up As Anna says Have a nice weekend

Anna Chinn September 25th, 2009


T. Robins, you say, "I say good on him and ‘isn’t that interesting coming from a kiwi!’"

I say that, too. The fact it's a pastiche is just an angle from which to look at Glorious. I'm not on the translocating horse (I don't even know how to ride), and I have nothing but respect for Mr Huber's work.

And for the record, I've been encouraging people to go see this play. That's not true of everything the Fortune does.

Wishing everyone a pleasant weekend.

John Smythe September 25th, 2009

Oh for a sense of humour ... My well-wishing 'toast' is no indication of what I take the status quo to be in Dunedin, just an attempt to make light of what Hilary seems to want critics to be.

It's also a reaction to the facile "write your own" comment and to being attacked for something I have not done - viz. try to tell someone how/what to write. I have simply asked "I wonder why", received an answer and participated in subsequent conversation.

Please also note I have nowhere suggested GLORIOUS is not worthy of the accolades being heaped upon it and I am delighted it is selling well. I'd love to have the time and budget to get down and see it but I don't, so must content myself with 'distance engagement' and asking questions to fill the gaps in my understanding.

martyn roberts September 25th, 2009

John, you are insulting and crass. Back off. You have not seen nor have you read this play. Until you decide to come down to Dunedin to see this fine work (which is selling fast by the way, other theatres note!) you have not got a clue. What is your point? Why are you taking crude, uninformed pot shots at us? 'Brainless sponges' implies that our audiences do not know what is good for them. Far from it.

As Hilary Norris says, Write it or bite it John.

John Smythe September 25th, 2009

May your auditoria bulge with brainless sponges!

Hilary Norris September 25th, 2009

I also feel that it is a presumption on the part of a critic to try and tell a writer where and in what genre he or she should set their plays. get out there and write your own!

John Smythe September 25th, 2009

It is precisely because I am aware of Richard Huber’s recent work that I found myself wondering why he had opted for pastiche. He is of course free to do what he likes and if it scores an audience that’s justification enough. Imitation is an important skill in theatre – and taking it that further step of ‘making it your own’ is usually what elevates it towards excellence and lasting value.

T. Robins September 24th, 2009

In reading these comments on the questionable setting of Huber’s Glorious I can’t help but feel saddened by the restrictions inevitably laden on this talented playwright for his, what I thought was a unique and immensely enjoyable, production. As Martyn said, ‘intelligent, witty and relevant’. Praises aside, I’m wondering if John and Anna have been aware of Huber’s other works, particularly this year that have been deeply embedded in the NZ story. Recently his script and direction of Home for Dunedin’s First Church celebrations, could not have been more grounded in the very earth it was performed on. While watching the performance, the words literally gave life to the church structure and the unique Dunedin geography and character of the city which up until then I had mostly been complacent about. It even drove me to look up a book on Dunedin history. Earlier on in the year at the Fringe festival his co-devised play One Day again reflected this same ‘NZ’ quality. Complete with windsurfing equipment, characteristically ‘kiwi’ swaggering accents and all set at a little beach/boat club just 10 away from where I live. Again, his recent co-direction of Hurai, a challenging and thought-provoking confrontation of colonialism and Maori syncretism reflects his clear awareness and practice of the NZ story.

One way of understanding the ‘post-modern’ experience is to see it as ‘diversity’ and if a local writer, with a breadth of NZ based work also chooses to produce a American-styled classic genre piece I say good on him and ‘isn’t that interesting coming from a kiwi!’ Does a NZ writer have to self-consciously fit into a mould or can he/she sometimes just write something simply because they choose something that interests them. Should we focus more on getting our writers to keep producing work and supporting them rather than emphasising the themes and settings of their plays.

Anna Chinn September 24th, 2009

Also, it is possible to illuminate something from a particular angle without being on a horse. Unknit. Brow. Furrowed. Et cetera.

John Smythe September 24th, 2009

I don’t doubt it, Martyn – I am not questioning whether or not it is “an intelligent, witty and relevant play about the battle of the sexes” with universal appeal. I am just intrigued that the undoubtedly talented creative team has chosen to reinforce the myth that such values in the ‘screwball comedy’ genre can only be found within the American culture.

I find something sad in Richard’s statement that “It reflects the truth of New Zealand cultural life as I have experienced it,” given his exposure and pleasure in those old comedies didn’t inspire him to conjure its equivalent in our Depression years (e.g. the private school-educated and world-travelled daughter of a wealthy high country sheep farmer slums it in Dunedin with a struggling writer who survives by working as a waiter). 

Last night I saw three short plays at VUW’s Studio 77 directed by 3rd year Theatre Studies students. The plays were by Pinter, Caryl Churchill and Sam Shepard & Joseph Chaikin. In each case, rather than preoccupy themselves with accents and without changing the settings or texts, the actors used their own voices – and they all worked a treat, getting to the heart of each piece.

That said, I am not an advocate of professional companies relocating foreign plays in NZ willy nilly, because that cons us into thinking we are hearing our own voices and stories, and we’re not: we are still consuming international product rather than growing our own.  

Of course if Mr Huber is hoping this strategy (like that of so many NZ novelists who now set their work anywhere but in NZ) will score him international success – who can blame him? With so many of our better-resourced theatres finding it easier to pick the proven and published works off the international shelf rather than seek out what’s growing in their own back yards (ATC excepted), how can we expect his ‘post modern’ sensibilities to be aligned to doing it the hard way?

On the other hand, would The Flight of the Conchords have got 3 seasons of their own TV show in the USA, and umpteen Emmy nominations, if they had pretended to be American?  

martyn roberts September 24th, 2009

Ok before everyone starts getting on their 'why isn't this set in NZ? Why not transpose all plays to NZ to make it 'relevant?' ' horses, have a look at ALL the reviews on this site and ask the same question. John, get on a flight to sunny Dunedin and come see 'Glorious'. You will be entertained by an intelligent, witty and relevant play about the battle of the sexes. This is a universal theme whether it is NZ, Aust, Antartica or the Space Station.

John Smythe September 23rd, 2009

Gee, sorry Anna. If only I had an angle grinder ...  Looking forward to Listenering.

Anna Chinn September 23rd, 2009

John, you bugger, you've stolen my angle! Why can't you leave some angles for others, you greedy angle-user? Oh well ... stay tuned for the review in the next edition of the Listener.

Richard Huber September 21st, 2009

Dear John

My choice to write a play set in America reflects an aspect of my identity as a post-modern New Zealander. It reflects the truth of New Zeaalnd cultural life as I have experienced it. Richard

John Smythe September 20th, 2009

I take it from this review that New Zealand playwright Richard Huber has written a pseudo-American play. If so, I am intrigued as to why. Is it pure pastiche – an esoteric exercise in theatrical style – or is there a greater purpose I have not gleaned?

Did he consider, I wonder, transposing the Screwball Comedy genre to NZ’s Great Depression (late 1920s to mid 1930s), thereby adding a point of difference that both illuminated and expanded it while using the genre to comment on our own class conflict and battle of the sexes?

Just asking …

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