The Lawrence Batley Theatre
The latest Theatre Thursday offering from The LBT took me back to Saturday afternoons at my granddad's in the '70s and early '80s and wrestling on the telly (when I wasn't at the match with my dad—my granddad lived just down the road from Maine Road football ground) when the old women on the front row would beat these huge men with their handbags whenever they were thrown out of the ring.
Jim Glory, or Glorious Jim, is from that world, and acts towards his audience as though expecting them to be starstruck from being in his presence, while apparently oblivious of their actual reactions. At least in his mind, he was superior to the far more famous names like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. However, a fight with the great Kendo Nagasaki—actually Stoke-born Peter Thornley—became his last when the masked villain, convinced he was about to be unmasked, inflicted injuries that turned out to be career-ending.
Jim, between reminiscences, describes to us his philosophy of life through wrestling metaphors, trying to surprise us with his knowledge of culture and literature as well as sport and tries to market the gym that he now runs, decorated with posters from his past glory days.
Jamie Smelt recreates the character of Jim from Nick Ahad's full-length play Glory, which was produced in 2019 by Red Ladder and Tamasha and appeared around the region, including at The Dukes and Stephen Joseph Theatre.
This monologue doesn't have the space to cover the range of issues tackled by the original play and doesn't feature any fights, but it is a well-written and well-performed piece that entertains throughout its 14-minute running time.
Reviewer: David Chadderton