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The lives of older women is a theme that is being increasingly explored in theatre, as writers and actors seek to give a more prominent voice to 50-something females. Here, the tone is both poignant and comical – Victoria is coping with a multitude of problems, including the departure of her son, who has just started university, a serious communication breakdown with her husband and the onset of the menopause.

In a subtle performance as the heroine, Jenny Ogilvie is excellent at capturing Victoria’s frustration and her rather mischievous sense of humour. Many of the supporting characters are equally engaging.

However, all this clever characterisation is negated by the arrival of Meg Paddy Navin. It’s not Navin’s fault – she does a good job of making this horrendous caricature remotely believable. But Meg comes from the Viz school of comedy northerners. She is so coarse and vulgar that she can’t sit on a chair without splaying her legs all over the place and, bizarrely, she eats a casserole with her fingers while everyone looks on bemused. It is unbelievable that writer Sarah Simmonds dreamt up this offensive stereotype, let alone that the character made it as far as the stage.

Oddly, the rest of the characters are well observed, although it would have been nice to see more of the complex Anita Kate Russell Smith, who smiles on the surface but is suffering inside.

Verdict: Monstrous northern stereotyping aside, this is a pleasantly entertaining show

Catherine Usher

  • Old Red Lion, London
  • October 14-November 8, PN October 15
  • Author: Sarah Simmonds
  • Director: Louise Shephard
  • Design: Kady Howey Nunn set, Harry Barker sound, Mark Dymock lighting
  • Technical: Jessica Williams movement director, Sarah Anstead stage manager, Ben Newsome casting director
  • Cast: John McAndrew, Joshua Miles, Paddy Navin, Jenny Ogilvie, Andy Rush, Kate Russell Smith, Edward Wolstenholme
  • Producers: Pink Snail Productions, Old Red Lion
  • Running time: 2hrs

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Verdict
Monstrous northern stereotyping aside, this is a pleasantly entertaining show

Catherine Usher
Catherine Usher is a freelance writer, theatre critic and subeditor. She has been a journalist for more than 15 years and worked in The Stage's production department from 2007-15
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