In praise of a ‘Grumpy’ night out

FANS of the BBC hit comedy, “Grumpy Old Women”, will doubtless be in a lather on learning that a trio of NZ theatrical Grumps will be at the Canberra Theatre in early May, performing in the show “50 Shades of Beige!”

The “Grumpy” cast of “50 Shades of Beige!”... “We’re like Billy Connolly with a uterus and a much nicer dress,” says director Geraldine Brophy.

The “Grumpy” cast of “50 Shades of Beige!”… “We’re like Billy Connolly with a uterus and a much nicer dress,” says director Geraldine Brophy.

The show was written as part of a Grumpy trilogy by British actress Jenny Éclair and Judith Holder, the scriptwriter known for “Grumpy Old New Year”. According to director Geraldine Brophy, it covers most of the essential Grumpy topics, such as anger management, middle-aged drinking, voluntary euthanasia and beards for women.

But if you think it’s only for women, you’d be wrong. Imagine, she says, asking comedian Billy Connolly whether people would be interested in an ill-dressed old Scottish man!

“We’re like Billy Connolly with a uterus and a much nicer dress,” says Brophy, who lives in Wellington and also acts in the show with Lynda Milligan and Jude Gibson.

They’ve already performed the first in the trilogy, which had people saying, “oh my goodness, I say that”, on hearing some of the Grumpy comments.

The three performers use their own names and, apart from playing some little character vignettes, Brophy says: “We are not hiding behind characters, this is a very real experience.”

Styled “a celebration of the pre, peri- and post-menopausal female condition,” the initial stage show, “Grumpy Old Women Live!”, enjoyed a sell-out national tour and two runs on the West End in 2006, but “50 Shades of Beige!” conveniently aligns itself with the current fad for a certain notorious novel, about to be turned into a film.

The play taps into the wider popularity of shows such as “Menopause the Musical” that speak to women of a certain age Brophy is adamant that you don’t have to be either old or female to be a Grumpy Old Woman.

I note that the London “Times” went so far as to suggest: “Some of the meditations on mortality and the fading of desire could almost have been lifted from a Beckett play.”

But if there’s a dark underlying note, as Brophy sees it, the antidote will be “healing laughter”.

Oh, yes, and if you want to read the program, the producers advise: “Don’t forget your bifocals”.

“50 Shades of Beige!”, Canberra Theatre, 7.30pm, Saturday, May 10, bookings to 6275 2700 or canberratheatrecentre.com.au

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