Bobby Crush plays Liberace and loses, but he puts up a magnificent fight, making the most hideous cacophonous sound on a heavily “miked” baby grand installed at the Gates of Heaven while he auditions for admittance.
The more he grins, the worse he plays, thumping out his honky-tonk versions of Rachmaninov and Gershwin like a white-caped crusader for tacky bad taste and crying, as he once said after bad reviews, all the way to the bank.
Liberace was the highest paid entertainer in the world and famously sued the Daily Mirror for stating that he was a chrome-plated, quivering, fruit-flavoured heap of mother love. He denied, under oath, that he was homosexual, and won his libel case. When he died of Aids, the Mirror gloated and sued back.
This ugly episode is rightly entered by Crush’s Liberace in his own defence to the stern voice-overs of Stephen Fry as St Peter and Victoria Wood as God (“I created the world in six days and, on the seventh, I baked a fruitcake”).
Full of unapologetic schmaltz and dubious glitter – Crush is of portly proportions these days and looks more like a bloated Elvis with hints of Tony Curtis than the Danny La Rue style glamour puss of his subject – the show still conveys a little of the legend.
And Crush saves the best till last, when he improvises a Mrs Mills-style medley made of audience suggestions including “Eleanor Rigby,” “As Time Goes By,” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” If you’re in the mood, you might enjoy the gross tat and the tawdriness. What else would you expect?