A life-affirming new hostage comedy at the Park Theatre empowers older women and shows us what’s Beneath The Blue Rinse.
Upon taking a seat at the Park Theatre to watch KEPOW! Theatre and Veritas Theatre Company’s Beneath The Blue Rinse, you might be duped into thinking that you’re about to watch a genteel, rather dull piece about knitting grannies drinking tea. Felix Waters’ simple, but effective set lulls you into the same false sense of security experienced by the play’s antagonist. Here are your grandmother’s beloved china ornaments, a 1970s rug and those white chair covers, which after some thorough Googling turn out to be called “antimacassars”. But beneath this blue rinse is something else altogether.
Move aside, Mrs Overall, Mrs Parkins is in town! Believably played with utter delight in her eyes by Marlene Sidaway, Flora Parkins goes head to head with Kevin Tomlinson’s Simon, a 21st Century Del Boy, in true Reservoir Dogs style. And there’s musical numbers to match. Sidaway’s Mrs Parkins is no elderly,batty laughing stock, but a whip-smart, vibrant, sexy and hilarious badass – who just happens to be “of a certain age”.
There are audible gasps from the audience as Simon’s attempts to patronise Mrs Parkins fall flat, and whoops and applause as Sidaway strips down to sexy lingerie while changing from her “old lady in beige” disguise into a rather more firey and fetching red number. She explains her participation in an underground terrorist organisation, taking down those who prey on the elderly and vulnerable one by one.
Bursting into the second half of Beneath the Blue Rinse, Ian Redford’s George is a rather more reluctant terrorist, grounding proceedings back in reality and allowing the high-stakes drama to resolve in a satisfying way without sacrificing the humanity of our heroes.
A few brief moments of Sidaway acknowledging the audience, in this otherwise naturalistically staged drama, took me a little out of the theatrical spell – and I do rather wish she’d had the last triumphant line of the show, rather than ending on a joke which fell a little flat. But, with laugh-out-loud one-liners and innuendo a-plenty, this is a great night out, joyfully tearing apart stereotypes about the elderly and reminding us to look for the human being Beneath the Blue Rinse.