“Steel Magnolias” review

Lucy Speed and Diana Vickers in Steel Magnolias.


Steel Magnolias. The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham.


You may very well be familiar with Steel Magnolias as a very successful film released in 1989 with an A-list cast including Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, and Daryl Hannah. It however started out as a Broadway play in 1987. Written by Robert Harling it is the true story of his sister (giving away no spoilers) and the women in his community – the “steel magnolias”.

This is a new production which is touring the UK. All of the action takes place in Truvy’s – the local hair salon – which is the hub for the women in the community. When I say ‘action’ it’s basically conversations – the gossip, the bickering, the caring, the love, the putting the world to rights. These conversations allow the story to play out over two years (1983-1985) starting with the women arriving at the salon to have their hair done (as big as possible!) for a wedding . Truvy is played wonderfully by Lucy Speed who is a revelation in this role. Her and and the whole salon is a homage to Dolly Parton (“the higher the hair the closer to god”). She’s warm, funny, and the southern accent is spot on. Diana Vickers as Shelby (the afore mentioned sister) is also a revelation. She’s so engaging to watch and plays the character’s strength through her vulnerabilities beautifully. Laura Main playing Shelby’s mother M’Lynn is also wonderful. Again no spoilers but M’Lynn’s role as mother is tested to the limit and we see her various emotions play out over the two years. Completing the cast are Elizabeth Ayodele as Annelle (Truvy’s new assistant with a mysterious past – a delight performance), and Caroline Harker and Claire Carpenter (covering for Harriet Thorpe) as bickering friends Clairee and Ouiser. A great cast, a great script, but take tissues!

4 stars. Tour de force all-female drama at its best.


Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.