Bassey meets Bhangra in this superb midlife coming of age comedy drama which is peppered with one-liners throughout, promising to leave you in stitches.

Meet Sonia (Yasmin Wilde), a working mother of two, divorced, about to turn 50 and living back at her own mum's house. Then mum dies but her memory lives on. 

Gloria (Janice Connolly) comes back from the grave to entertain us, and boy does she do that in her red sequin dress. In her past, she wowed the crowds of the working men's clubs of East Anglia with her renditions of Shirley Bassey's hits with Sonia as her sidekick and now she's working her magic with the audiences at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

Sonia doesn't really know much about her dad - apart from small details like he used to be a pilot and looked like Omar Sharif. She grew up with all the influences of the English side of her identity and that's all she's known.

That is until her teenage daughter Jade (Nikhita Lesler) does some investigative work and the unexpected arrival of Sonia’s half-brother Naim (Simon Rivers) from Manchester awakens her cultural identity to her Pakistani roots.

As the story unfolds, we learn more about the other side to Sonia's life and she embraces it. There's a shift from drab mum clothes to glamourous Asian outfits, an introduction to the language and music. It's contagious, making you bop in your chair and want to run on stage and break out into dance - true Bollywood style.
And every woman needs her best friend by her side and Sonia is no different. She has Debs (Victoria John) who adds her own unique dimension to this hilarious character. She's funny, silly, loyal, and plays a great drunk woman.

When you first walk into the auditorium you're struck by the simplicity of the set and how it's amazingly put together given the space. And yet, this simple set is able to wow you - the mini bar, yes there's a mini bar in the living room, revolves into a stage and what you think is a plain wall, slides open to reveal DJ Albie (Miles Russell) in his very own booth.

'Glitterball' has it all - it's fun when it's fun and serious when it's serious. It's got twists and turns and it's an eye-opener in terms of shining the light on cultural differences, dual heritage and what that can mean, and let's not forget that this is also an ode to Dame Shirley Bassey, a legend of British popular music. From start this finish, 'Glitterball' is perfectly put together and beautifully executed on stage, a celebration of so many things.

'Glitterball' is on at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith until October 8.


Review: Sunita Jaswal