Printable CopySTEEL MAGNOLIAS
IpSkip Productions
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 13 Jan 2018

Review by Janice Bailey

Director/Producer Nathan Quadrio has assembled a sterling cast to bring this iconic play to life. The film is familiar to most and the temptation is to make comparisons. However, the characters created by Robert Harling, based on real people in his life, are so relatable that the audience is quickly drawn into the stage set of Truvy’s Beauty Shop where the story unfolds.

There was an obvious strong connection between the actors which had most likely come from workshopping the project as a group. Each of the actors is accomplished with a wealth of expertise and experience. As can often happen with a group of equally talented people portraying strong characters there seemed at times to be some inconsistency in the thematic overall vision. Overall the southern accents were strong but again with some inconsistency. It is also important to remember that the play was written over 30 years ago and while the themes are still relatable it is a credit to all those involved in the production that the audience is able to be so easily drawn into the stories and friendships of these women.

Lisa Simonetti is wonderful as Truvy, maintaining the ‘voice of reason’ throughout the tribulations of all of the women who come to her beauty shop, often more for the ‘sisterhood’ and ‘gossip’ provided in this non-judgmental atmosphere. Georgia Broomhall delivers an excellent performance in the difficult role of Arnell, growing from the timid new arrival with obvious ‘secrets’ to the confident and valued permanent resident. Cate Rogers hits the emotional mark in the difficult role of M’Lynn. Casmira Hambledon has created a believable Shelby, Julie Quick delivers another fine performance as Clairee, as does Rose Vallen as the bombastic Ouiser.

The set design by Nathan Quadrio, Hannah Tulip and Matthew Plummer works extremely well, highlighted by the sound and lighting design of Tim Bates. This project has been approached with a high degree of integrity and respect for the play and its characters and overall everyone involved should be proud of their efforts.