Steel Magnolias review—A Celebration of Love, Beauty Parlours and Neighbourhoods

By James Gardiner

 

Set in Truvy’s Beauty Parlour in 1980s Northwest Louisiana, Steel Magnolias brings to life the intricacies of small town America in a charming and poignant display of community spirit. The play follows the lives of six women from America’s South as they navigate shifting family dynamics and unrelenting illness. UTS Backstage’s adaptation of the 1989 comedy-drama, which is running until Saturday July 7 at the Bon Marche Theatre, is executed with a level of professionalism and precision to be congratulated for such an intimate production.

What stands out about this play is the control over pace and tone which the cast maintain. A trap of having long conversations that take place in a single location is that they have the potential to drag, but this all-star, all-wom*n cast provide a dynamism and wittiness that keeps engagement high and humour flowing.

Director Gabrielle Stapleton has done a phenomenal job of balancing the atmosphere throughout the entire production, orchestrating seamless ventures from laughter to sorrow and nourishing a palpable chemistry on-stage. Individuals shine at times, particularly Lauren Meola, who plays an older woman in M’Lynn Eatonton with a debonair ease and gift for gravity and magnetism, however it’s the interplay between characters and knack for cheekiness and comedic timing that makes the ensemble shine as a whole.

This is a fantastically fulfilling play that had me from the start and never let go. Get your tickets while they last!