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Review: Beneath the Blue Rinse, at Park Theatre

30 May, 2019 — By Clair Chapwell

Kevin Tomlinson (Simon) and Marlene Sidaway (Flora) in Beneath The Blue Rinse. Photo: Ben Wilkin

FULL disclosure: the author of this review is a 67-year-old woman. So when the press release quotes the author Tom Glover as saying “I hate little old ladies” and his main character is a female aged 75 – well let’s just say I struggled to approach this play with perhaps the necessary neutrality. But here’s the good news: I left the theatre howling with laughter.

Smarmy Jack-the-lad alarm salesman Simon (Kevin Tomlinson) worms his way into the home of “unsuspecting sweet little old lady” Flora (Marlene Sidaway) to terrify her into buying a load of useless kit. Chairs with antimacassars and cutesy figurines complete the picture. The play begins with humorous banter between the two that continues just slightly too long before the first dramatic twist: sudden, shocking and delightful.

The tables are turned and Flora strips off her cardigan and grabs the upper hand with style, aplomb and rage imprisoning the astonished Simon, now desperate to escape, detailing her draconian plans for his future.

The parallel between Simon’s situation and his granny living in a care home is exploited cleverly as the torture begins.

Enter toy boy George (Ian Redford) and Glover comes into his own. Wild anarchic humour tempered with real tenderness characterises the final section of the show.

This is a joyous, dangerous exploration of what it means to be old and how it is viewed by the relatively young.

The three performers are an excellent trio, shifting the mood with ease and nuanced direction from the sharp Glen Walford.

However, I return to my original point. “I hate little old ladies.”

Substitute words society might once have used for persons of colour/with a disability/gay.

Not necessary to sell such a fine piece of work.

Until June 15
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