Disclosure - we were provided with press tickets for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions are honest and our own.
Last night I met up with a friend and headed to the iconic New Theatre in Cardiff to watch Steel Magnolias. I absolutely love the film and was concerned what the stage play would be like. Little did I know that the film was an adaptation of the play in the first place! My friend however, had no knowledge of the play or the film so it was interesting to have her opinion on what is a much loved and classic story.
Steel Magnolias is a play about the relationships and lives of a group of women in a small town in Louisiana. The story follows the women as they face various challenges, including love, marriage, illness, and loss. At the centre of the play is the character of Shelby, a young woman who battles diabetes and ultimately dies due to complications from the disease. Through their grief, the women learn to rely on one another and find strength in their friendships. The play is known for its humorous moments, its exploration of the bonds of female friendship, and its poignant examination of the fragility of life.
The stage is set in Truvy's salon where we are privy to the chats of these 6 ladies as they go through life's ups and downs together. Lucy Speed was fabulous as Truvy and really made you feel like a welcome friend joining in the conversation. Laura Main has some emotional scenes as Shelby's mum and this is where she really comes into her own.
The set doesn't take up the whole stage, rather the action is inside a lit up rectangle, giving the impression that we are looking in on the salon whilst making us aware that there is an 'outside' to this safe space. Pictures of Dolly Parton adorn the walls and it is very reminiscent of the film that I love so much.
Personally, as a huge fan of the film, I feel like it didn't live up to expectation somehow. The southern accents were slightly off and I think it would have done better to have tried to be a little more unique. My friend who hasn't seen the film enjoyed it as a standalone, perhaps all the more for not having something to base it on.
I did enjoy hearing all the quotations I love from this play, here are a couple of my personal favourites:
I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.Shelby
The nicest thing I can say about her is that all her tattoos are spelled correctly.Truvy
There is no such thing as natural beauty.Truvy
Nevertheless it was full of funny moments, laughter and raw emotion and it was an enjoyable watch. The audience clearly enjoyed it and there was laughter throughout. What is most lovely about it is that it is a cast of women, given the stage to make their voices heard, in a world where this isn't always allowed or acceptable. Conversations are risqué, honest and relatable and if I could get my hair done in Truvy's I tell you I'd be there like a shot!
Steel Magnolias is showing in the New Theatre Cardiff until Saturday 22nd April and you can book tickets here.