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by Luci Cummings
This one-woman show played to a full house at the Burton Taylor Theatre
on opening night. The play began to the strains of 'Land of Hope and
Glory', a quote from Margaret Thatcher, and an audience wearing campaign
badges bearing a photo of Cindy Blake - perennial hostess and alter
ego of the playwright Anne Stewart.
play follows Cindy's fortunes as she announces to her girlfriends
that she plans to stand as a candidate for the local council. She
seems the most unlikely person to do so, her main preoccupations
in life being handbags, makeup, and the superiority of Waitrose
over Marks and Spencer. As the play continues, we watch Cindy experience
both triumph and pain in her life.
is not a split-your-sides with laughter, rolling in the aisles experience.
The humour is gentle and much of it, as the title suggests, is aimed
at women. However, the audience was made up of both men and women,
both of whom chuckled at the jokes. The set made effective use of
the space, suggesting the interior of Cindy's lounge using a window,
a door and a couple of items of furniture. The use of sound and
video inserts throughout the play added interest as well as giving
Stewart time to change. It might have been good to have more of
these, perhaps with improved sound quality.
performance was subtle, perhaps too much so. Some of the jokes were
masked by the tone in which they were delivered. The dialogue also
lacked pace, which tended to get in the way of the humour. However,
this worked very well for the sadder moments in Cindy's life, and
the intimate setting of the Burton Taylor theatre only enhanced
play is much more than the advertising would suggest. It doesn't
just show the intricate preparations of a woman before she goes
out for an evening; it is a snapshot of her life.