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Stuart King

Review: BENEATH THE BLUE RINSE at the Park Theatre

Beneath The Blue Rinse - Park Theatre Beneath the Blue Rinse is the unlikely title of Park Theatre’s latest offering which uses as its basis, the extreme reactions of an OAP when she’s confronted by the disreputable behaviour of an alarm salesman determined to use her to hit his bonus target.

The promotional blurb for Tom Glover’s new comedy would have you believe that it explodes society’s stereotypical misconceptions of the blue rinse brigade. It goes on to suggest that it will even cause the audience to reevaluate its views and treatment of the elderly as a whole. Whilst the writing doesn’t fully realise that lofty ambition, the cast still manages to deliver a reasonably solid evening of comedy entertainment whilst convincing us that growing old disgracefully can possess a certain quirky charm.

The aforementioned manipulative salesman Simon Sudgebury (Kevin Tomlinson, doing his best to cultivate measured impatience) deliberately targets the meek and befuddled and always comes armed with his standard arsenal of scare tactics and burglary statistics to seal the deal. At the home of 75 year old widow Flora Parkin, (Marlene Sidaway) she offers tea, cake and plays along with the charade allowing him to deploy his unsubtle bullying and geriatric insults before finally declaring her contempt for his behaviour (using a selection of vulgar expletives) at which point she promptly turns the tables on him in a most unlikely and bizarre fashion. Flora is aided and abetted in this pre-planned endeavour by her 72 year old toy-boy GEORGE (Ian Redford) whose general affability and dead-pan delivery of some fairly terrible end-of-the-pier comedy lines, instantly won the hearts of the audience.

The piece is an odd mixture of serious social commentary on the treatment of the elderly, combined with utterly daft nonsense. But interestingly, it just about works. The points are well realised, without being too preachy (although the vast majority of the audience were well over 40 so perhaps it was already largely receptive to the message), and director Glen Walford has ensured that the more wild comedy elements have managed to stay just the right side of slap-stick.