I Want That Hair

Jane Thornton’s play set in the hair dressing salon in the north of England disappoints.



Presented by: Insomniac theatre
Venue: Chesterfield Room, the Exchange Hotel, Balmain, Sydney

Sunday,  27 February, 2011 (Australian Premiere)
I Want That HairJane Thornton’s play set in the hair dressing salon in the north of England disappoints.

The portrait of two lives glimpsed through the inane conversation of hairdressers Bex (Elizabeth Rutter) and Heidi (Maggie Scott) rarely does more than skim along the surface of superficiality.
Bex has run the dowdy hairdressing salon since her mum died of cancer and Heidi is her dim but well meaning assistant. Rutter and Scott were spot on regarding accent and type, although at times the pace and interchange between them was mistimed. This may have been due to nerves, although it left some lines fall flat. There is little plot to speak of, other then the advent of a new modern salon in competition across the road and the 40th birthday of Bex who feels fat and unfulfilled. Sometimes the lack of focus in a text can bring out quirky characterisations and nuances, but as Bex said in the second act “I’m not Shirley Valentine” and neither was the play. It was difficult to remain engaged in the characters when the dialogue batted back and forth about how many chocolates were eaten and plays on bad puns (“British Hairways”). References to large emotional events in the women’s lives which could have added depth and contrast went largely unrecognised and subsided under the relentless chatter.
Andrew Mead’s direction incorporated several brown outs for ‘scene changes’ and mood 80s music in the first half which seemed unnecessary and became annoying. The constant eye gaze reference by the hair dressers to the mirror as the fourth wall also began to irritate as the play continued. Perhaps this was one reason it was difficult to connect with these women as they never really connected with each other?
Rosalie Perch played the remaining loyal clientèle in the salon with some nice natural facial reactions. This was a silent role, as she would not have been able to get a word in edgewise with the garrulous hairdressers.
In the second half the inevitable happens- no customers arrive and the two hairdressers get drunk. Heidi eventually announces her intention to defect to the new establishment across the road. There follows a falling out, telling of truths and final transformation of Bex who tries to change her life by changing her hair.
There were some funny one liners like Scott’s delivery of “I’ve always gone for big men. With little men it’s like they’re not finished” and there were some audience members who clearly enjoyed the play. There was a lot of work and detail poured into this production. It’s a pity the vehicle wasn’t more worthy of the effort.
Until March 13 2011

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