By Harvey Sid Fisher
---BEAUTIFIED is a play about a beautician,
Mike (Rob Brownstein), who has a hair salon in Massachusetts. We are with him from day one when he opens for business and through to the last day when he retires and sells it to Sally (Joanna Strapp), his recalcitrant shampoo girl cum stylist of forty years. Candy (Karen Austin), makes it a cast of three as she wanders into the shop at a cold and lonely moment in her life and is thawed by Mike’s warm, human chair-side manner.
As her hairdresser, confidant and comb wielding wise man Mike helps Candy put the loose ends of her life and her hair into some functioning order so, like life, the roles can reverse. The play was written by Tony Abatemarco as a paean to his brother’s life and death. Tony did the same by writing a play eulogizing his deceased father. His close relatives must be nervous around him when he searches for his next subject to write about.
BEAUTIFIED is a solidly constructed piece of writing for the amount of lifting it had to do. It has story, humor, pathos and people not only brought to life but brought back to life from that other place. Directed by Jenny Sullivan, the three actors were a pleasure to experience. They appear so natural that it is difficult to call what they do acting.
Rob Brownstein as Mike gives a strong performance and makes it look so easy. His Mike would be a wonderful guy to have a beer with and I would definitely trust him to cut my hair. Karen Austin as Candy starts out as a troubled and unreachable stone that arcs into a version of almost near normalcy. An appealing woman whose hand I would like to hold while Mike cuts my hair.
Joanna Strapp, as Sally, entertains us as a spunky little urchin who cannot be tamed. She is her own man. And she is funny. The play made use of an invisible fourth wall mirror, clever set architecture, characters drawn to human scale and some real good laughs. What makes this play, BEAUTIFIED, worth seeing? Is it the acting, the writing, or the directing? You could argue about it until you are blue in the hair but don’t wait that long. Make your appointment at this salon now, for a highly entertaining and fun styled do.