Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Picture Of Doreen Gray @ Oldham Coliseum, 21.10.14

The Picture of Doreen Grey is a wilfully jumbled tale of a media personality who has, by the harsh standards of celebrity, passed her sell-by date. Fortunately for her she stumbles across a self-portrait she made while at school, which has been brought to life by some sort of supernatural occurrence. Trading places with her younger self kickstarts her career...but at what cost?

This is my first experience of LipService Theatre, a production company made up of writer-performer pairing Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding. They've been working together since 1985, and this show is one in a series inspired by famous books (past productions include Very Little Women and Withering Looks). Much of the writing pokes fun at young people and the modern world, with reference points - twitter, facebook, pop music - that are not terribly original. This would be problematic if LipService's aim was to make groundbreaking comedy or cutting social satire, but since they aren't it isn't. Instead, they've made a silly and accessible Radio Four-style comic romp that the audience at the Coliseum absolutely adored. Highlights included a choreographed office chair chase, some old-fashioned show tunes with titles like 'No One Loves a Fairy Over Fifty,' and a very funny skit in which Fox and Ryding recreate famous paintings using some decidedly dodgy props.

While by no means a political piece the show did have a message of sorts: getting old, gracefully or otherwise, is no crime. The Picture of Doreen Grey doesn't take itself seriously, even for a second, and if you're a fan of Radio Four comedy this is probably the perfect night out for you.

Words: Andrew Anderson

Image: Courtesy of LipService Theatre

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