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Scoop Review: Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias

Reviewed By Yasmine Ryan

The action takes place in big-haired beautician Truvy’s Louisiana salon, portrayed in a striking set designed by John Parker, heavily infected with 1980s kitsch. This setting brings together an all-female cast of all ages. Here goings-on in the outside world and its menfolk are verbalized and recounted, with humour aplenty in the characters’ own observations.

The kiwi cast pull off the Southern accent better than one may have expected, with Abigail Greenwood’s Annelle a particularly sweet and convincing Southern belle.

Truvy, played by Jacque Drew, keeps the one-liners coming and the tempo upbeat, but the other 5 women all have their fair share of wit, thanks to playwright Robert Harling. Grumpy old Ouiser (Joy Watson) acts as a foil for the others to bounce their gentle teasing off, and helps keep the sentimentality from becoming overwhelming: “I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years.”

The principle theme of Steel Magnolias is the trauma of losing a daughter to diabetes. Mother M’Lynn (Shortland Street’s Donogh Rees) and daughter Shelby (Ascia Maybury) share a believable onstage bond, and Rees shines in the play’s most intense scene.

Not exactly ground-breaking, but then it isn’t trying to be. It deserves more than the lightweight chick-something category, however. As Truvy would say, “Never unner-estimate the parr of a woman.”

Director: Amanda Rees
Where: The Herald Theatre, City Centre, Auckland
When: until 13th February. Tuesday to Saturdays at 8pm Matinees on Saturdays at 2pm. Early show on Sundays at 4pm.

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