Englishwoman Jenny Eclair markets herself as a “Professional grumpy old woman, amateur soup maker and novice knitter”. Her MICF show How To Be A Middle Aged Woman (Without Going Insane) was an energetic ramble through a range of Eclair’s challenges in making the transition into this stage of life, and some annoyances she found once there.
Some may have seen Eclair’s airing of grievances in UK TV shows such as Grumpy old Women. That’s what enticed my guest (a woman from Eclair’s target audience) and I along to the show. Fans of those TV spots might find that the acerbic, often cross-generational bitchiness heard there is lacking in this show.
This show is more a middle-aged woman talking about herself rather than the place of her demographic in society. There’s the odd look back at wild behaviour from her youth, and a brief mention of the challenges of ageing parents. Eclair skated breezily across this, avoiding bitterness as she noted how her life has changed.
Topics covered included her inability to wear jeans anymore, and a novel use for the peri-menopausal woman. Eclair dispensed some advice too, notably on how to handle hot weather when you don’t have a thigh gap, and a tactic to manage perceptions of your weight.
Whilst there might be some down sides to middle age, Eclair clearly demonstrated some positives. As she worked the room, her easy-going and confident patter had an unbroken momentum that showed the benefits of years honing the storytelling craft.
Whilst my guest and I found some amusing moments, How To Be A Middle Aged Woman (Without Going Insane) may not have wide appeal for the general MICF audience.
So what did Eclair accomplish with her performance? By giving voice to the frustrations of women of a certain age and validating them, Eclair gathered a healthy amount of laughs, and two curtain calls. If laughter is a form of therapy, then for many the show delivered the help its title promised.
Jenny Eclair – How To Be A Middle Aged Woman (Without Going Insane)
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 6 April 2017 – 7.00pm
Season continues to 16 April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Jenny Eclair (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte