Or… the day I thought Pavarotti was a stagehand
Despite visiting hundreds of theatrical productions in my life so far, I have to admit that I don’t often give much thought to wigs. I have overlooked the incredible hard work and dedication that goes into ensuring that hairpieces are realistic, historically accurate if required, and that they will stay in place whatever drama unfolds on stage! Angela Cobbin has created wigs for a huge variety of theatrical events, films and TV shows, and in her autobiography she shares tales from her awe-inspiring career.
Angela’s stories from her childhood and young adulthood are fascinating, but it is particularly interesting to discover how she got into hairdressing and how she entered the world of wig making. This section of the book goes into the most detail about the process of wig making itself, yet it could have delved further into the process of this incredible art form.
This book is heaving with anecdotes, from creating the wigs for the stars of the PG Tips advertisements (who happened to be chimpanzees), to working with the many waxworks at Madame Tussauds. The author has also worked with some of the greatest opera stars and actors of the 20th century. There is a particularly amusing anecdote featuring Sir Ian McKellen, in which he asks her if she’s any good at cutting hair, to which she responds, “Are you any good at acting?”.
It must be a challenge to pick the best parts from such an illustrious career, and although it’s fascinating to hear of the breadth and diversity of Angela’s work, at times it can feel more like a list of career highlights. This does result in it becoming harder to stay engaged towards the final third of the book. Perhaps a more in-depth look at fewer projects would have been more engaging, as some intriguing sounding jobs are glossed over in just a few lines towards the end, compared with the in-depth tales from her early career.
Despite this, My Name is not Wigs! is an intriguing insight into an area of the arts that I would not have previously given much thought to. I won’t be overlooking such incredible work again. My next trip to the theatre will find me carefully observing the hairlines: will I be able to tell who might have had their look carefully crafted by Angela Cobbin or her contemporaries?
Author: Angela Cobbin
Published by: Brown Dog Books
My Name is Not Wigs! is out now and available from all good book sellers.