Theatre review: Hormonal Housewives, Festival Theatre

Carol Smillie in Hormonal Housewives
Carol Smillie in Hormonal Housewives
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There’s something unashamedly intimate about the comedy stylings of Hormonal Housewives.

The cast, fronted by Carol Smillie, are both candid and camp, not to mention a little provocative. Pity then that last night’s performance at the Festival Theatre did little to show off the actresses’ talents, instead relying on over-familiar stereotypes and clichés to keep the show from stagnating.

Billed as “a hilarious evening of excessive laughter”, Housewives is a comic two-and-a-half hour rant by three middle-aged women faced with the trials and tribulations of “the change”.

In much the same manner as Grumpy Old Women and Hot Flush, Smillie and her companions share intimate details about their battle against weight gain, mood swings, waxing, chocolate and men.

Supported by Shonagh Price and co-writer Julie Coombe, Smillie launches into a tirade of anti-men jokes. This dubious humour is broken up by ad hoc sketches in which the trio take on different stock characters. Worthy of particular mention is Coombe’s mouthy working-class mum, feebly trying to persuade a court that premenstrual syndrome was responsible for her battering her boyfriend over the head with a Michael Jackson figurine.

The cast do well in spite of the variable script. Coombe puts in a compelling physical performance, providing most of the evening’s slapstick. Smillie proves to be a mean hoofer on the dancefloor and Price is believable in her role as a highly strung singleton.

What is baffling about this production, however, is that for all its allusions to empowerment, its sexually-charged premise has more in common with the frivolities of Loose Women than modern feminism. Coombe’s musings on the “virgin, mother, whore” image are undermined by crude gags about bejewelled yonis and New Age rebirthing classes.

The result is a muddled show that is offensive in the way it reduces all menopausal ladies to blethering, wine-swigging simpletons.

Until Housewives is able to find a clear and cohesive voice it will remain as imbalanced as its aforementioned hormones.

• Runs until Saturday

Rating: 2/5