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Review: Glorious at Northumbria University Students’ Union

THIS “quiet musical”, written and performed by Rajni Shah, was staged in London and Nottingham before coming to Wunderbar but was always designed to take on a different guise in each city.

THIS “quiet musical”, written and performed by Rajni Shah, was staged in London and Nottingham before coming to Wunderbar but was always designed to take on a different guise in each city.

The Newcastle version began in the Eldon Square shopping centre last month, when passers-by were invited to write a letter to a stranger and receive one in return.

About 175 people exchanged letters, and some of them were invited to perform alongside Rajni’s team and a group of musicians from the Gateshead Academy of Music and Sound.

The letters and exchanges formed a key part of the show. One person had written to a childhood friend and another, speaking in a broad Glaswegian accent, said “cheerio the noo” to an old pal.

The writers, from different places and backgrounds, spoke of love, loss and what they had learned.

Rajni was the constant factor, standing centre stage and singing in a low, haunting voice as the recruited performers stepped forward to read their stories.

The songs were repeated across the three acts, each time gaining a further layer of harmony and rhythm, but one of the striking aspects of the musical was the mesmerising use of silence.

At first it was not easy to understand what it all meant, although Rajni had instructed the audience not to try and think too much about it.

One Newcastle contributor, Paul Bodie, said before the performance: “The brief is about being in this place at this time.”

This sense of place was captured in the performance which showcased the cosmopolitan nature of Newcastle. It would be fascinating to see how Glorious manifested itself in the other cities.

 
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