The Picture of Doreen Gray - Theatre ☆☆☆3

Showing from - Friday, February 13, 2015 through till Saturday, February 14, 2015

Blackpool Grand - Blackpool

Sandra Mangan | Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Picture of Doreen Gray reviewed by Sandra Mangan on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 for Downstage CentreA picture paints a thousand words... for Doreen Gray at the Blackpool Grand

If you had the chance to turn back the clock, would you take it?


That’s the conundrum that faces TV and radio presenter Doreen Gray. Doreen is best known for presenting a telly show about vintage cars, but when her bosses decide she has passed her sell-by date, Doreen is distraught. She’s only 55!

Sobering stuff, but never fear - this is a comedy after all, and by a company who are past masters in the laughter business. This year, Lip Service Theatre celebrate their 30th anniversary and in that time they have brought 19 original comedies to the stage. Doreen is their second foray into Oscar Wilde territory - fans may recall their cross-dressing version of The Importance of Being Earnest in 2001.Old trooper Doreen puts on a brave face, until the news of her dismissal hits Twitter But back to Doreen, who is still reeling from her sacking when she has to turn up at a reunion at her old school, which is being filmed for the BBC’s School Reunions series. Even here she feels something of a failure, because Doreen is only the school’s second most famous alumni. Fellow art student Mark went on to win the Turner Prize, and no one seems inclined to let her forget it.

Nevertheless, old trooper Doreen puts on a brave face, until the news of her dismissal hits Twitter and all hell breaks loose. She escapes to the arts corridor – where Doreen unearths the very thing that could chance her fortunes for ever. It’s a self portrait done when she was performing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in sixth form – a fine piece of work for which she only got 85 per cent, while that aforementioned darling of the art world was given full marks for an empty frame.


Whole New Career

Magically, it offers a solution to Doreen’s problems and modern-day Doreen and her teenage Titania switch places. Back after the interval, and Doreen is now in the frame, while youthful Doreen, with Titania’s flowing locks, a certain boho chic (and unfortunately the fairy’s wings) takes on a new lease of life and finds a whole new career in ‘yoof’ TV. But is there a price to pay?

Lip Service founders Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding threw their heart and soul into this performance. Maggie had the seemingly easier job of playing just Doreen, while Sue was everything from school friend to producer, hyper rock band member, headmistress and office junior – you had to marvel at her quick changes, which were even written into the script, much to the amusement of the audience.

So the dynamic duo owned the stage, but praise must also go to the local singers from Poulton People’s Choir and Revoe-lution who played their parts so valiantly, performing everything from a school anthem to a disco style ditty.


Brilliantly Executed

The set was sparse but very effectively used, with simple door frames doubling as picture frames and even a ballet barre, but my favourite bit of it was the screen which showed spoof TV advertisements before the show and in the interval, featuring Doreen and her myriad products – you name it, she had her moniker on it, be it cereal or face cream. The screen was also turned into a brilliantly executed portrait canvas, with the switch seamlessly handled by both actors and technical staff.

Though it couldn’t be described as laugh-a-minute, this is a show with some great comic moments. If you’re looking for a little light relief from the humdrum, I suggest you get your K Skips down to a Lip Service performance forthwith.

‘The Picture of Doreen Gray’ is at the Harrogate Theatre on the 19th and 20th February 2015 and then on tour nationwide.


Production Information

Theatre: Blackpool Grand

Showing Until: Saturday, February 14, 2015

Production Company: Lipservice Theatre

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