Arts & Entertainment

American Beauty Shop

Cait Burley & Janine Watson

The Australian premier of American Beauty Shop is both comic and tragic, giving a human face to the struggles faced by blue collar workers in middle America during the Global Financial Crisis.

After decades of pressure on the minimum wage and with manufacturing/factory jobs leaving American shores, this play indicates the social consequences of poverty and lack of social services that has led to the current political situation.

Set in 2010 in Cortez, a small town in Colorado, American Beauty Shop evolves around the lives of five women inside a hair dressing salon, the Sugar Shack. Because of financial difficulty, the business owner Sue has relocated her shop from the main street to the basement of her home.

The big issue is the new Walmart which has just opened; it’s destroying local small businesses. Walmart has everything all under the one roof, including its own internal hairdresser which offers a basic service but at a cheaper rate. Sue’s hairdressing is unique, more of an art, but it’s proving difficult to compete, and she’s being squeezed out of the market.

It’s a naturalistic narrative piece, an all-female cast, with the characters ranging in age from 17 to 81.

Older audience members especially will be entertained by Helen, played by Jill McKay, an 81-year-old whose fantastically dynamic and the most IT savvy character of them all, with her own Blog and Twitter account.

“We’re hearing female voices, voices across three generations and while some things have changed for women over time, some things have remained the same. You’ll be laughing one moment but feeling tremendous empathy and pain, so experience all colours of the rainbow in terms of emotion,” said the play’s director, Anna McGrath.

Aug 25-Sep 16. KXT, 244 William St, Kings Cross. $25. Tickets & Info:

By Mel Somerville.

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