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The Return of the Grumpy Old Women – Fifty Shades of Beige

I can’t vouch for previous incarnations of Grumpy Old Women, of which there have been many in stage, television and book form, but the current tour strikes countless chords with the middle-aged matrons of Salisbury and will doubtless carry on doing so as it makes its way round the country.

Not that the audience is restricted to the menopausal – there are plenty of GOWs-in-waiting getting the low-down on what’s to come and a scattering of blokes, possibly not laughing as hard as the rest of us. And there is a lot to laugh at.

The one constant in the GOW phenomenon is the partnership of Jenny Eclair and Judith Holder as scriptwriters with Eclair as performer.

Eclair is joined on stage this time round by Susie Blake and actor/singer and boy, can she belt it Kate Robbins. While Eclair and Robbins give their grumpiness full vent, Blake delivers jaw-dropping one-liners couched in an expression of sweetly senile innocence.

The new material – from the joy of big pants and the death of one’s inner rock chick to unwanted pole dancing kits and the suitability of GOWs as spies – is funny throughout.

The trio on stage might be full of bile, but the audience – already granted automatic membership to the Grumpy Club by way of the ticket price – find rueful recognition in what age has thrown at us as we reach the “Viking Cruise liver spot time of life”.

Lesley Bates