Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Flye offered a foretaste of this performance in MetroStage's December 2017 production of Christmas at the Old Bull & Bush, where she presented one of Grenfell's monologues about a nursery school teacher stretched to her limits. ("Georgedon't do that" is a catch phrase from this series of pieces.) Joined by pianist Joseph Walsh and narrator Michael Tolaydo, Flye presents a selection of works that showcase, in the narrator's words, "Joyce's unending sense of discovery and wonder."
Grenfell had an upper-middle-class upbringing in London; her American-born mother was the sister of Nancy Astor, the first woman member of Parliament. While she always enjoyed writing, especially letters to her mother and friends, she began creating characters based on people she observed in the street and on the London Tube, making her stage debut in 1939. She also performed her own songs, set to music by English composer Richard Addinsell.
Flye shows great charm and versatility as she takes on characters ranging from a bored woman struggling through a classical music concert ("Dear Beethoven, bless his little heart, he does go on so") to an aging, unmarried woman stuck taking care of her father, from the wife of a European diplomat navigating a Washington cocktail party to a middle-aged woman taking her first flight to visit her son and his family in the U.S. The songs range from the self-explanatory "I Like Life" to "Three Brothers," a story about finding satisfaction in a meager life, and "Stately as a Galleon," about a dancing class with too many women and too few men.