Five Blue Haired Ladies..., Norwich

CHARLES ROBERTS Miquel Brown, Anne Charleston, Jean Fergusson, Shirley Anne Field and Ruth Madoc are the five ladies of the title, each a distinct individual, each one in visual contrast with the other.

CHARLES ROBERTS

If you have to be technical about this long-titled comedy (the full title being Five Blue Haired Ladies Sitting on a Green Park Bench) – and this reviewer has no intention of being so – it is not really a play at all, but a series of cameos and mini-biographies drawn lightly together on not one, but two green park benches in New York's Washington Square Park.

What matters is that this loose confederation of lives reaches out with a warmth and a joy of life which are richly compelling.

Surely no one with the merest touch of humanity and emotion in his heart could not but be charmed by its humour, its wit, its splendid one-liners and its welling stream of kindness and compassion.

Yes, writer John A Penzotti has built in a quantity of schmaltz, and director Chris Colby has allowed a deal of over-the-top playing.

But through the memorable quintet of elderly women we meet here, we find so much to meet our own experiences of life and death, so much at which to laugh and so much to touch our hearts, that such quibbles are of no consequence.

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Miquel Brown, Anne Charleston, Jean Fergusson, Shirley Anne Field and Ruth Madoc are the five ladies of the title, each a distinct individual, each one in visual contrast with the other.

As they tell their stories, share their different lives, touchingly expose their strengths and weaknesses, they move beyond being theatrical characters and achieve theatre's fullest aim: they become real people we believe in and care for.

A short review does not permit the word pictures which each of them deserves.

Enough to say that here we have a lovingly delineated team for whom the audience rose to a thunderous, rhythmically clapping ovation at final curtain last night at the Theatre Royal.

Go to be warmed, to be uplifted, by a play, performance and production which make us feel better for having met them.harles Roberts

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