Review: Steel Magnolias

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York Grand Opera House

If Steel Magnolias had been a musical, the Grand Opera House would have been packed but sadly a play doesn’t have the same pulling power – a pity, for this touring production ranks amongst the very best around.

In his play Robert Harling has successfully infiltrated the beauty parlour where bonds develop between staff and customers enabling them to share gossip, secrets and confidences. Set in 1980’s Louisiana, Steel Magnolias weaves comedy and pathos – one minute you’re laughing, the next crying, within seconds you’re laughing again. Through four scenes spanning three years, we follow the staff and customers as they engage in small-town gossip and see a deep strength and loyalty emerge between these remarkable women as they survive the cycles of life birth, marriage and death. The key to this production’s success lies in its strong cast who make their characters deliciously different.

Denis Welch as Truvy, the back-combed salon owner, plays the brash, businesswoman to perfection; in complete contrast, Kacey Ainsworth as Annelle is beautifully ditzy. Isla Blair has some contrasting moments slipping from high drama to laughter in a matter of seconds which she handles superbly. Cheryl Campbell has impeccable comedy timing with her razor-sharp, sardonic dialogue. Steel Magnolias is a great theatrical experience and a must-see.

To May 12.