Pamela's Palace

It is the Salon of the Year event at Scissor’s Palace and Pamela, ‘Best Stylist of 1996 before she had a breakdown’, is the ambitious owner who dreams of attaining the coveted award. Hoping to find the perfect Aphrodite model, Pamela has ‘taken out a mortgage to refurbish the salon for a Greek-themed catwalk event complete with pillars, ivy and grapes’. What could possibly go wrong?

Copious amounts of hairspray, pathos and mayhem ensure that a fun time is had by all.

Bronwyn, a salon junior, played incisively by Ayesha Tansey, greets and subtly intimidates us, the clients, in the waiting area before the event. She examines our hair with barely-concealed contempt as we, the audience, are ‘gowned-up’ and then ushered into the ‘tastefully’ decorated salon. Bronwyn’s understated cool is immediately countered by the adrenaline-fuelled Drama Queen of Naff, Pamela, whose complex mix of suburban narcissism and bitter self-doubt, is also delightfully observed as she high-kicks and performs her rehearsed catwalk routines with all the intensity and flair of a woman teetering on the edge of failure. Then there’s Tiffany, the alluring junior stylist, who attempts to engage her client in conversation whilst trying to prevent her boyfriend, Dante Alicante, from dumping her via telephone. Tiffany re-enacts her and Dante’s fateful meeting in an hilarious routine where her client ends up chasing her around the salon trying to give her a box of tampons that she has artfully dropped. Katie Gracie Cooper, is mesmerising as Tiffany with her hot, happening moves and insouciant confidence. She is also a superb singer who performs a poignant solo musical number which is one of the highlights of the show.

The competition doesn’t go as Pamela hopes and, after much confusion involving pregnancy tests, professional rivalry and shattered dreams sees the women descend into a furious fight where Bronwen’s underarm hair is stripped painfully away. Happily, the three hairdressers manage to resolve their differences, realising that there is more to life than hair and they perform a surprisingly cheeky routine in a wonderfully unexpected and uplifting finale.

The evening is a riot as these three talented performers pout and strut their way through some dazzling choreography on the catwalk. The highly interactive content works well as the audience willingly become part of the drama and chaos. Copious amounts of hairspray, pathos and mayhem ensure that a fun time is had by all. Highly recommended.

Reviews by Heather Line

The Principal

Pamela's Palace

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Pamela is the hard won queen of a buzzing beauty salon. But behind the glamour, there are secrets that threaten to bring the walls of her suburban Palace crumbling down. With all the drama of a Mike Leigh, the sparkle of Strictly Ballroom and a free glass of bubbles, this brilliantly funny and bittersweet comedy celebrates the vulnerability and strength of everyone trying to make their way in an unforgiving world. Bought to you by the same crew behind Faulty Towers the Dining Experience ('Outstanding' (FringeReview.co.uk)) and The Wedding Reception ('Brilliant comedic timing' (BritishTheatreGuide.info)).