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Steel Magnolias

I’m not sure I can put into words how my mum’s eyes lit up when I told her that our next review was going to be Steel Magnolias. Having watched the 1989 film featuring Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts, she (and I) came with very high expectations, and I am delighted to say that those expectations were both met and succeeded.

Set in the Deep South, the play is based in a hair salon owned by the very glamourous Truvy. It follows the stories of six very different women over the period of 18 months and tells us of their experiences and struggles in a small town. Pre-warning: if you go to watch this performance you are highly likely to both laugh and cry, so make-up is optional!

Fiona Richards in the central role of Truvy was a perfect fit for the role. Whilst the cast were not attempting to mimic the characters from the film, there was certainly a distinct likeness in the look of the character of Truvy. Fiona played the role with skill, portraying a true romantic with ease, and in those heels! My only small piece of feedback is to hold character, regardless of any line blocks; you are doing marvellously!

The role of Clairee, played by Jane Adams, came into her own in the second scene. She had some fantastic one liners, which were delivered with both enthusiasm and skill.

Michelle Barton, in the role of Shelby, truly stole the show. In the wrong hands, there is a risk that the character could be viewed by the audience as spoiled, disrespectful and bratty. It is therefore a testament to Michelle that she accomplished delivering the role of Shelby as a headstrong, funny, very sweet character with a very inspiring, positive outlook on life. Alongside Shelby was her mother M’Lynn, a fed up southern wife with a fierce love for her daughter. The role was delivered well by Janine Williams throughout the performance, but her most impressive monologue came at the end. There was not a dry eye in the house.

Ouiser, played by Val Smith, was delightful. She added another dimension to an otherwise very nice group of characters, with her sharp tongue, quick wit and grumpiness. Anna Rigby in the role of Annelle delivered her god-fearing character very well.

It was great to see a play which had equal parts for everyone and a chance for all involved to have a fair chance to shine. As the play was based in the Deep South, the entire cast had the challenge of adding a very distinctive accent into the mix. This was done well in the main, although some accents were stronger than others. It was also paced very well by all involved, but on some occasions lines which would have been more powerful if they were lengthened were delivered a little too quickly. Don’t be afraid to take that extra couple of seconds.

This was a fantastic play which featured extremely accomplished actresses. I would highly recommend going to see this if you get a chance; you will not be disappointed. Thank you to all involved for a fantastic evening.

Performances available at 7:30pm on 24 & 25 May and 2:30pm on 25 May.