9th Oct 2018
Steel Magnolias is set in Hair by Truvy, a beauty salon in the small town of Chinquapin, Louisiana. It follows the lives of Truvy the salon owner, her assistant Annelle, and four regulars in the salon - Clairee, M'lynn, Shelby and Ouiser.
The play spans four years in the lives of these women. Through their gossip and chatter we learn about life in the small southern town. Each of the four acts brings news of a momentous event in their lives; moving from the joy of a wedding day to the grief of a funeral. Life in Chinquapin has many challenges and the women rise to them, whether that be dealing with widowhood, apathy, or abandonment from their menfolk, or simply the challenge of surviving the small-town mentality. The women come to the salon to share their joys, their sadnesses, their dreams and successes, their hopes and failures. It is a place to share burdens, and solve problems.
Crises come and go - some are major, others are trivial, but all are important and real to the women. They act as a support mechanism, giving advice, help and mutual support to whoever needs it. Throughout the play the Truvy keeps them all grounded, dispensing advice and wisdom along with beautiful nails and hair.
Grace Allen and Sue Brackenbury play Shelby and M'Lynn, and capture the friction between a headstrong daughter and protective mother. Mary Bell is the pragmatic Clairee, widow of the former Mayor, struggling to find her place in a town where she was once a person of influence. Michaela Davenport plays Annelle, initially awkward and out of place, she is taken into the circle of friends and gradually blossoms.Thelma Russell excels as the gloriously eccentric Ouiser, while Gemma Taylor gives an assured performance as Truvy. The group all work well together under the direction of David Tuffnell, and are wholly convincing in their portrayal of strong female friensdships.
The play is funny, there are some great lines that had the audience laughing aloud, but it is also heartbreaking - you will need your tissues for M'Lynn's emotional speech in the last scene!
Steel Magnolias plays until Sat 13th Oct - it's a great night's entertainment and well worth seeing.