In the primped world of I Want That Hair, the audience are brought behind the mirror and into the lives of Heidi (Pippa Fulton) and Bex (Jackie Lye). Jane Thornton’s play erects a pretty-in-pink hair salon in the hallowed centre of East Riding Theatre and the theatrical world never loses its charm.
The premise is simple, two hairdressers watch their own salon fail in the face of a start-up salon across the street. Bex and Heidi talk about their lives both in and outside of the salon, they face their march of time and how decisions they have made have led them to the slightly faded salon in which they work. The simplicity of the concept, however, belies the complexity of executing it successfully. Often the production rises to the challenge but at other points it missteps slightly.
The limitations of the single set and the small cast leaves the production stalling in frequent blackouts to indicate time jumps. These blackouts make the play slow to start, dizzying in its first few scenes. Once these stumbling blocks have been managed, Thornton’s writing falls into its stride. Long set pieces full of dialogue which is entertaining, heartfelt and witty, in turns. Thornton has managed to create a great piece of theatre, carried almost entirely on the back of brilliant characterisation and dialogue.
In mentioning character, it would be impossible to discount the excellent performances of Lye and Fulton who perform more like a comedy double act than two actresses in a play. Lye especially mounts a virtuoso performance. She is energetic in her performance, full of pathos and wit. At times, Fulton mismanages small moments, but still enriches raucous humour with a sincere soul. Both women inhabit characters in ways familiar yet surprising. Their performances are much aided by John Godber’s subtle direction, which shepherds the play to its full realisation. What I Want That Hair occasionally lacks in pacing it makes up for in hilarity. It combines delicate critiques of class with vastly entertaining storytelling. If you want a great night out this March, East Riding Theatre is the place to be.
I Want That Hair is playing East Riding Theatre until 30 March 2019. For more information and tickets, visit the East Riding Theatre website.