Celebrating Joyce Grenfell

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Trisha Lewis Celebrating Joyce Grenfell                        Picture: Hattie Miles


Trisha Lewis: Celebrating Joyce Grenfell: The Shelley Theatre, Boscombe (16th Feb, 2017)

What a lovely evening. A chance to remember the charm, wit and elegance of Joyce Grenfell. And who better to deliver an evening of Grenfell’s inimitable monologues, songs, sketches and observations than Southbourne-based actress Trisha Lewis who has performed a celebrated tribute to the comedienne and singer’s work for the past 20 years?

As Lewis herself has pointed out there will be many younger people who have no idea who Joyce Grenfell was. Attempting an explanation she says she was “a bit like Victoria Wood, Pam Ayres or Alan Bennett. The thing is though she was utterly unique.”  Which is why the only way to describe this extraordinary performer who died nearly 40 years ago is through her work.

Lewis rose to the task superbly giving us a selection of favourite Grenfell material including of course the peerless nursery school sketch - “George don’t do that” - and much, much more. Using a simple change of scarf, hat or jacket she inhabited an array of characters brought to life through Grenfell’s acute sense of observation and comedic skills.

The show also told the fascinating life story of this quintessentially upper middle class Englishwoman who was actually half American - the niece of Nancy Astor no less.

We learnt how, after finishing school in Paris, she became a performer through a chapter of happy accidents. How she went on to entertain the troops, worked with the BBC and eventually became a household name.  She was a natural, a pioneering stand-up with an ear for character and dialogue. Thanks to Trisha Lewis we got a very real sense of what made Joyce Grenfell so special.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022