The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead

By Robert Hewett. Directed by Geordie Johnson. A Playhouse Theatre Company presentation, in association with the Blonde Project. At the Vancouver Playhouse on Thursday, January 17. Continues until February 2

Never underestimate the power of one. Veteran actor Lucy Peacock plays the blonde, the brunette, the redhead, and a handful of others in this tour de force, and her characterizations are so detailed and so thorough that you’d swear she was a whole ensemble.

Robert Hewett’s series of linked monologues explores the dark side of suburbia—kind of like Desperate Housewives, but with real heart. The play opens with Rhonda, a middle-aged housewife who’s been dumped by her husband of 17 years. She shares her perplexity at having been left so abruptly and alludes to a confrontation with the other woman.

Peacock then steps behind a scrim, and we see her in silhouette, changing costume. She emerges as Alex Doucette, a lesbian doctor with an upper-crust British accent, and at first it’s unclear what her connection to Rhonda is. Hewett’s script is as multifaceted as a prism—each character gives us information that forces us to revise both our understanding of what we already know and our expectations about what’s to come—but it’s not always as pretty. There’s genuine grief and pathos in this world of malls and monster homes, but to say any more about the plot would spoil the play’s abundant surprises.

There’s also plenty of humour here, since Hewett delights in characters whose skewed self-perception helps them avoid taking responsibility. Rhonda’s neighbour Lynette is an exquisite bundle of contradictions. “I never interfere in other people’s business,” she avows. “However, there are exceptions.” Peacock’s superb comic timing makes Lynette both horrifying and irresistible.

Peacock plays seven characters in all, and her range is truly breathtaking: from a four-year-old to an octogenarian, from nervous housewife to... Damn, I can’t tell or I’d be giving away too much.

Virtuosity on this scale is a thrill to watch. Peacock’s skill and the excellent writing that showcases it make The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead well worth checking out.