This review was originally written for The Public Reviews
Lip Service’s hilarious new comedy The Picture of Doreen Gray opened to a rapturous reception at Oldham Coliseum Theatre as the production made its world premiere before going on tour.
Written by satirical duo Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, The Picture of Doreen Gray tells the story of glamorous drive-time radio host and television presenter Doreen Gray, whose famous youthful looks rank her alongside Cliff Richard and Lulu on the national treasure list. But as Doreen hits her mid-50s, she starts to realise that her face no longer fits the bill until a spooky encounter with an old self-portrait at a school reunion offers her a way to stay forever young… but at what cost?
Comical, entertaining and a little daft, The Picture of Doreen Gray is British comedy gold at its best. Fox and Ryding’s superb script is funny, witty and creatively clever, exposing the invisibility of older women through witty one-liners and tongue-in-cheek gags. Keep your eye open for the daft and hilarious scene in the school art corridor in which Fox and Ryding depict famous works of art using their faces. The audience reaction is priceless.
Maggie Fox is excellent as the lead character Doreen Gray, playing the glamourous, loveable and at times, pretentious female protagonist with style, flair and comedy.
Sue Ryding is equally superb in the endless supporting roles. Her wit, charm and confidence demonstrates her skills not only as a comedian but also as an actress. Her role as Colin, Doreen’s co-host on the Vintage Car Club TV show (and an uncanny cross between Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear) is particularly good and has the audience in stitches.
The comedy duo are joined on stage by a number of community actors who act as Doreen’s school mates live on stage and on film. The group also assist with three live musical numbers which are in themselves, entertaining, energetic and full of laughs.
The show finishes with a short film-reel showing the community actors strutting their stuff to a disco track as old and slightly embarrassing family photographs pop-up alongside current photos, a subtle and sweet acknowledgment to the supporting cast by Fox and Ryding.
Entertaining, funny and a little bizarre in places, The Picture of Doreen Gray may not boast the culture or sophistication of Oscar Wilde’s famous novel on which it’s inspired, but it certainly beats it when it comes to comedy, creativity and entertainment.
Runs until Saturday 25 October
Reviewer: Donna Kelly