THE PICTURE OF DOREEN GRAY: Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding.
Touring Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Runs: 2h 00m: one interval.
Review: Nottingham Lakeside Arts, Alan Geary: 26th November 2014.
Not their best but an improvement on their last.
In their latest tourer, LipService, Maggie Fox (the tall one) and Sue Ryding (the short one), faithfully present their unique brand of humour. The title’s a give-away of course: The Picture of Doreen Gray is suggested by the Oscar Wilde novel of nearly the same name – but only suggested. This is not a parody or send-up of that novel; it shares with it the idea of someone clinging to youth while a figure in a portrait ages, but that’s about it.
Doreen is a second-rate broadcaster/telly personality whose day-time classic car TV programme is being axed in favour of a laddish motoring show. Trouble is, at fifty-five she’s got too old, hence the portrait wheeze.
Laughs come from a variety of sources.
For instance, there’s the need for doubling-up – at one point Ryding has to be two characters at the same time. And there’s a wicked swipe at your cliché-ridden radio programme with patronising host and uninspiring guests. There’s also Mark (played by Ryding), a TV petrol head, with lines dominated by contrived motoring metaphors. And a cheap but funny Rolf Harris gag.
Best are the spoof adverts for Doreen’s own-brand healthy breakfast cereals and beauty products, done brilliantly on a well-deployed screen.
Unlike previous LipService outings, there’s little emphasis on Fox’s sidelong looks at the audience, dodgy scenery or unsubtle hints of gayness – Fox and Ryding have a considerable gay following. And an only partially successful musical element is brought in at a school re-union, guest speaker Doreen.
This is not up there with their best shows of recent years. It lack pace in parts and there are some fairly protracted laughter-free stretches. But it’s better than Inspector Norse from two years back.
It might sound like being in favour of sending four-year-old waifs up chimneys or re-introducing smoking on buses, but Ryding and Fox ought to drop the non-professional community involvement that’s crept into their shows. It detracts from the underlying spirit of their act and adds nothing to the overall quality of the total package.
That said, the audience obviously enjoyed their evening.
Gwenda Hughes: Director.
Lighting: Jane Barreck.
Composer: Tayo Akinbode:
Lyrics: Malcolm Raeburn.