DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Steel Magnolias – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Reviewer: Jacob Bush

Writer: Robert Harling

Director: Anthony Banks

Steel Magnolias, based on the 1989 film starring Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts, is about storytelling. It’s about six women, who regularly gather in Truvy’s hairdressing salon, sharing life with each other. Although much of the action happens off stage as the women narrate their experiences to each other, the show keeps moving at a good pace with a superb cast at the helm.

The script by Robert Harling is in equal parts funny and moving. Harling gives all the characters their moment to shine and for the spotlight to be on them and they all go on a journey throughout the play. None of them remain unchanged and they are all fully fleshed out, three-dimensional people. Anthony Banks keeps the show moving with his direction, despite minimal action playing out on stage, and he makes fairly dynamic use of the space. Laura Hopkins’ elevated set depicting the salon is very naturalistic, providing plenty space for the small cast to use whilst not allowing them to be swallowed up by too much stage space. Susan Kulkarni’s costumes perfectly ground the characters in their geographical and time location and, alongside Richard Mawbey’s wigs, fantastically show time passing and the characters changing over the months and years. Serena Hill has assembled a very strong cast for the production, with all giving star turns.

Lucy Speed leads the cast as Truvy Jones, the owner of the salon. She has excellent rapport with all the cast and, although she may have the least character development throughout the play, she holds the different narratives together like glue. Elizabeth Ayodele brings a beautiful naivety and innocence to Annelle Dupuy-Desoto. She is immediately likeable, bringing a youthful energy to the proceedings.

Diana Vickers gives a great performance as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie. She has a huge amount of energy and is completely engaging. Vickers demonstrates her versatility as an actor, tackling both the more light hearted moments and the emotionally charged moments with ease. Laura Main as her M’Lynn Eatenton is equally fantastic. Her performance is heartbreaking, especially as the conclusion of the play approaches, and Main and Vickers portray the complex mother-daughter relationship perfectly. Harriet Thorpe is fabulously outlandish as Ouiser Boudreaux, whilst never becoming unbelievable or a caricature, and Caroline Harker demonstrates her strong comic timing as Clairee Belcher.

Steel Magnoliasis an enjoyable couple of hours at the theatre performed by some of the UK’s best acting talent from stage and screen. It is a beautifully heartwarming tale of community and how six women come together and love each other through all the highs and lows of life.

Runs until 4th February 2023, before continuing on tour.

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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  1. Unfortunately, the actors overdid the Southern States accents, making it very difficult to follow the dialogue for large parts of the performance.

  2. Absolutely awful, dialogue was terrible couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Fortunately knew the story line otherwise would have found it difficult to follow.
    Acting was very amateur left after first half would have gone after first 10 minutes if wasn’t stuck in the middle of a row.
    Complete waste of money

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