Blow Me Beautiful opens a short series of play readings under the auspices of Stellar Quines, running till 1st May at the Traverse, and concluding with an extended discussion of all three readings.
Set almost entirely in a hairdressing salon on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, ‘Blow Me Beautiful’ is a lively wee number which mixes a number of theatrical styles, which, like the creations of Ray (the camply obsessive and (literally) anally retentive manager) and his staff, sometimes work to great effect and sometimes topple toward over-ambition.
For a relatively short show (billed as hour and a quarter, running to over and hour and a half) ‘Blow Me Beautiful’ fair packs in the quips, the coifs and quiet a bit of development along the way. Which could be fine, save that it also involves around ten characters, at least half of whom are entirely integral to the plot.
As it was once expressed to this reviewer "in comedy, every line has to be a plot development, a character development, or funny, and ideally, it’s all three."
Now there’s a fair few lines to exercise an audience’s funny muscles in Blow Me Beautiful and, as stated, plenty of development, but in some ninety minutes worth of traffic on a sometimes extremely busy stage, some of this isn’t so much lost as simply thrown away.
There’s a sense that here is a script from which a TV sit-com, a comedy of personal crises and a rip-roaring farce are all desperately trying to escape at the same time.
A further cavil emerged early on, as Ray’s ethnically diverse team of stylists were exposed to a barrage of jokes which mercifully managed to stay the right side of pretty nasty, though seeming at points to teeter dangerously near the edge of objectionable. When a script is as actually and potentially funny as Blow Me Beautiful, less is once again more.
All of which aside, there’s still a lot to enjoy, including Ray’s toilet-bound soliloquies, more than ably supported by Gail Watson covering his beloved divas – Dolly Parton and Barbara Striesand.
Other cast members work extremely hard to vivify what is essentially a script-reading exercise, and deserved the delighted audience reactions they received.
Watching these workshops and attending the democratic post-show discussion process may prove a welcome and liberating diversion from ‘big conversations’ going on elsewhere.