A wealthy Manhattan socialite imagines herself a virtuoso soprano. Decades before YouTube or "American Idol," she becomes a sensation, staging annual charity recitals despite the fact that she regards musical notes not as fixed points within a particular key but as "signposts left by the composer to guide us." Her name was Florence Foster Jenkins. The last dozen years of her life, until her death in 1944, are the subject of Stephen Temperley's sad comedy "Souvenir."

A wealthy Manhattan socialite imagines herself a virtuoso soprano. Decades before YouTube or "American Idol," she becomes a sensation, staging annual charity recitals despite the fact that she regards musical notes not as fixed points within a particular key but as "signposts left by the composer to guide us." Her name was Florence Foster Jenkins. The last dozen years of her life, until her death in 1944, are the subject of Stephen Temperley's sad comedy "Souvenir."

The subtext, however, defies such simple description. The story is told by the tone-deaf woman's longtime (and long-suffering) piano accompanist, Cosme McMoon, given jauntily self-critical life by Matt Clemens during a preview performance on Nov. 22. Accepting the job at first for the "remuneration commensurate with [his] dignity," he grows from cringing accomplice to grudging admirer, wondering all along whether Ms. Jenkins is merely deluded or truly demented.

Seeing the story from McMoon's perspective, we begin to wonder whether Ms. Jenkins might be just an extreme case of our own general inability "to see ourselves as others see us," in Robert Burns' words. Perhaps we are all equally self-deluded, just not as publicly.

CATCO veteran Linda Dorff inhabits Jenkins (and her incredible succession of costumes) with grace enough to carry her through even the most mangled melody.

"Souvenir" may be a comedy, but it comments on both our own folly and tenacity, suggesting that we should laugh less and listen more.