Edinburgh Fringe 2018
A one woman show about the female Menopause using comedy, personal anecdotes, voiceovers and character play. There’s a valid reason to explore the female menopause because it’s simply not talked about enough. “Women’s issues” are boring after all, aren’t they? If mental health is the “pulled pork of the fringe”, then menopause is probably the aging (pun intended) salad garnish that no one ever eats.
Beveridge unpeels the confusions and extreme challenges of being in her body during this change, through an honest and touching narrative. Nods and laughs and murmurs of agreement from the audience affirm the shared experiences. There is a nice range of devices and comical moments to make this a lively and engaging show. The voice overs are creative, fun and textural but don’t always work well as in the case of the comedy critic, other times work brilliantly as with the disinterested GP.
What would have been interesting, in the current gender political landscape, is to talk about body image in general. We no longer live in a clearly defined male/female gender biased society. There are bigger complex issues at play in terms of why menopause isn’t talked about or understood well, because its an “aging crone’s issue”. What might have added depth in this show is to recognise this in terms of what is femininity and what exactly society values about women. Equally there is evidence around the male menopause: it’s so important to talk about the incredible changes women’s bodies go through but also ask the question of whether men also go through this. This show also provides an opportunity to reflect on the common grief of losing fertility as a woman (is this grief around fertility or is it around how we are valued as women) and of course issues around age and mortality.
Beveridge is contributing to the conversation around feminist political issues around woman at her prime. Hannah Gadsby, while not talking about menopause as such, critiques such common conceptions of femininity and womanhood in her recent show Nanette, fiercely pulling apart Salvador Dali’s comment about his 19 year old lover being in her “prime’ while declaring that he was in his prime in his 40s. As Gadsby shares a lifetime of facing violent misogyny, she talks about how she has always been viewed as “incorrectly female” and roars at the crowd that as a woman in her middle age: “I am in my prime, would you take on me to prove yourself?”.
This is a secret that has been lurking all along: women don’t wither and disappear when their body changes into this different stage, it’s society’s perception that women face that reduces their confidence and self worth. But as Gadsby asserts, it’s time to rise, not fall away. Beveridge is on the right track, by bringing this conversation, and herself laid bare, to the fringe. Delve even deeper and this show will continue to rise.
With thoughtful paper plates on our chairs as we arrive (to use as fans), and chocolate ice creams passed around, as well as information for further reading on menopause symptoms and treatment Beveridge provides gentle acknowledgement and support for her menopausal audience members. This performance offers hope and strength to others as she shares her own journey in self care, reminding women that as she has learned, “you can handle it”.