On its return visit to the region Drew Quayle’s The Salon is making a longer appearance in Liverpool.
The Royal Court’s recognition as a venue for populist theatre made it a suitable choice to stage it second time round. The Salon’s adult tone on issues of sex and betrayal were a hit at the Theatre Royal in St Helens during the summer.
We’re first introduced to Carol, who’s holding fort at ‘Vicious Streaks’, a salon in the heart of Liverpool. Lynn Francis plays her as the kind-hearted type as she struggles to cope with the breakdown of her marriage.
Then there’s married hairdresser Shelia who’s happy to hop in and out of bed with any student heading into the Krazy House: a well-known nightclub in Liverpool city centre. Lynne Fitzgerald, as she did previously, plays the grotesque Shelia with admirable comic timing and humour.
Fitzgerald’s less feminine character is the complete opposite to Tia, who is named after her mum’s favourite alcoholic drink – Tia Maria. Former Brookside actress Suzanne Collins - who posses probably the best legs in the business - plays the young beauty therapist. With the figure and hair to match, Tia relies on looks rather than talent as she tries in vain to impress at her X Factor audition.
Quayle’s stereotyping doesn’t quite stop here. He includes a small time gangster in the muscled shape of Tony (Danny O’Brien) who works his way through the bed sheets of ALL the staff to get his way. But the biggest stereotype of the lot is Roy Brandon’s Neil, the owner of the salon who has been dumped by his boyfriend Paul (James Spofforth).
Brandon as the gay drama queen is funny in moments but a little tired and boring in others, especially during the drunk scene with the girls in his flat when he annoyingly chooses to shout his lines.
Nicola Bolton, in a number of walk-on parts, makes up the cast and Spofforth also plays the dumb Stan, who’s a regular to the salon.
To summarise, The Salon, which is being directed by Bob Eaton, disappointedly lacks depth of plot and relies heavily on its coarse choice of gags.
However, Mark Walter’s two-level rotating set design deserves praise. It includes Neil’s flat above the salon and in one scene Tia’s beauty room swivels into view when Tia gives Tony a massage which borders on soft porn it’s that crude.
Unlike those written by Allt and Kirby, it’s too early to predict whether Quayle has a ‘hit comedy’ in Liverpool, but it’ll please some.