Quotes from reviews and responses to Glorious

The following are quotes from reviews and responses to our performance in April 2011 as part of the SPILL Festival at the Barbican. They will give you some idea of the performance - but please bear in mind that these are all in response to one version of the show. In this version, the theatre was a large black studio (The Barbican’s Silk Street Theatre) and the music was arranged and performed by ten students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.


"As the careful action unfolds around her, Shah remains centre-stage – static, monumental, providing the gravity of the extended place. Her costume designed by Lucille Acevedo-Jones is architecturally astonishing ...  And if Shah’s centrality here runs the risk of being grandiose or remote, through some sure alchemical touch it manages the precise opposite, securing and dignifying the other contributions.  Let’s make no bones about it; this piece could’ve been a disaster.  The whole premise invites amateurism.  Its triumph is how it not only accommodates but transforms untrained ordinariness. Collecting not entirely remarkable stories together and framing them in such a way that they become – or more accurately are allowed to be – personal and significant. Disparate lives become part of a momentary unity, in a manner that is touching and true." more

Daniel B. Yates
freelance editor and critic

"Glorious felt like a place to come to a rest in. A slow building work that crept up on me and managed to transform my state completely by the time it had finished ... In the last few weeks I have seen quite a lot of performance, and mostly the kind of performance that tries to jump out at you, that wants something. But Glorious settled down into the stage, and allowed the audience the space and time to come to it of their own will."

Alice Mackenzie
choreographer, writer

"Oh my god, I thought: this piece is just really really kind. It's got so much kindness in it. Kindness is so rare on stage I think I might have forgotten it was possible, worth looking for -- especially in a piece that, in a rather functional end-on theatre space (the Silk St theatre at the Barbican), is signalling both live art and musical theatre, two species of work that can tend to be quite content with their own ironies and their discontinuity from us. But it is, it's an incredibly kindly piece, tender, humane, and therefore also brave (in willing us to meet it where it is, in daring us to be kind back). At times I felt as moved as I think I ever have in a theatre ... What made this possible above all -- very interestingly I thought -- was a kind of emptying out of overarching narrative. Which left room for all kinds of other narrative to flood in: the six amateur performers with their own snapshots and shreds of correspondence; but also our own narrative as we sit with the piece, watching it change, changing with it. I certainly changed my mind, again and again. Perhaps that's partly what I mean by saying I felt "moved". I kept being moved and moved and moved."
(from a private online forum)

Chris Goode
writer and theatre maker


"I fell in love with the music of glorious, the words and stories of fellow performers, and with repetition itself. The stories and music repeated became both haunting and a source of comfort. My own monologue kept repeating the phrase 'I remember' as an account of what I remembered from a day in my life and the whole experience has reminded me the extent to which emotions are visceral -and the immediacy of communication between mind/body. Nerves in the leg shaking, the heart beating, slowing the breath to remember the confidence I have to remain and do what I'm there for -and enjoy it ... Glorious is a journey bound for other destinations, one I'm no longer on but sort of am in a way. I like that in the beginning of Act One, sitting in the chairs as we did on either side that we bridged the stage and the audience, were clearly visible mirroring the openness, honesty of the whole thing; All of us inevitably gave and received a gift. Performers shared strength and vulnerability, their sense of uncertainty, advice and wisdom. We might never be able to get away from our own minds, our own histories and stories but we can enter into each others' worlds imaginatively." (from the Glorious People private online community)

Vicky Cowell
performer (London)

"In a world where desire is gratified instantly and social systems are imposed in ways we have no control over, Rajni’s work explores this conversation in a way that may yet serve the demands of the 21st Century ... I realise that this is not just a politics of generosity but a politics of noticing.  Of being able to receive just what is placed in front of you, being able to be there to hold the weight of these stories, this compassion, these people, and to see them in and of them selves.  To see things as they are, from where we are, right now." more

Madeleine Hodge
artist, writer and researcher

"Banality, the basic matter of our everyday lives – the breakfast parties, the arguments with our children, the shops on our streets, the political anxieties, the houses we've lived in for years, the cemeteries in which we'll end – is transformed and transcended ... Those lives we were glimpsing? They were our lives. Those parties and arguments and anxieties and houses are ours ... that is what Shah shows us, and that is the gift she offers us. Don't be frightened of life, she reminds us. It's all we have." 

Maddy Costa


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