Directed by Lucy Richardson; Written by Sheila Chapman
By Diverse City
Cast: Nandi Bhebhe, Claire Hodgson, Jacqui Beckford, Karen Spicer and Ann Trethewey
Barbican Pit until Sat 22 Feb
Midlife. What crisis? If you’re a woman circa fifty, it might just be menopause. In this uplifting production we share three women’s experience of the latest taboo challenge. Championed by the likes of Jane Garvey’s Woman’s Hour series in 2018 and Mariella Frostrup’s 2019 BBC programme The Truth About - The Menopause, tackling the menopause might no longer be ground-breaking (thankfully), however Diverse City certainly brings it to the Barbican Pit in novel way.
The actors endlessly “performance bomb” the stage with their own experiences and baggage (literally), disrupting Claire Hodgson, the ringleader’s endeavours with her one-woman show. With a retro, pub-theatre feel, Mid Life is unsophisticated, all over the place, sometimes nonsensical and just wonderfully daft. Mind you, there are quite a few punches to the show, to do with menopause both physical and emotional.
The theatre company, Diverse City, does what it says on the tin and lavishes diversity in all its richness with a couple of BSL sign-language interpreters who embellish the production to the hilt. Claire Hodgson is an engaging but frustrated commandeer. White and middle-class, she is not excepted from life’s trials by a longshot. Jacqui Beckford is striking, citing her anger at an oppressive world neither she nor any black woman deserves. Her family comes under scrutiny too. Karen Spicer is hilarious as a slam poet telling the middle classes where to get off. She has something to say about the double trouble menopause brings to a lesbian couple. Kandaka Moore, not menopausal, darts in and out, singing beautifully. But why? Why not. Hodgson’s elderly mother makes an appearance too and with her words of wisdom they all don sequins.
Be prepared. There are few standing ovations at the end because everyone is too busy dancing.
Barbican Centre Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
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