Presented by Spectacle Management
Created by Jeanie Linders
Produced by GFour Productions
Review by Craig Idlebrook
(Beverly, MA) Sometimes, it is impossible to decide the value of a show until you can decide on its politics. Menopause: the Musical, playing at the Larcom Theatre, is giddy and infectious, to be sure, but does its very existence set back women’s rights by a few decades? This is the question the theatergoer must ask as his or her foot starts tapping to the fun on stage.
The answer might be, it depends. Certainly, the source material seems to have been written with the most simplistic and backwards-looking view of womanhood possible. The whole show takes place in Bloomingdale’s, and the action begins with a fight over bras; there’s not much plot after that. Even the tone of the recorded narrator sounds like it would be at home announcing the exhibits on a Disney ride that explores the hidden history of male patriarchy. It was shocking to learn that this script debuted in 2001, as it feels like a museum piece that encapsulates the tone of the 80’s, as sure as Anything Goes harkens back to the roaring 20’s.
In the wrong hands, such a script could prove disastrous, but it is the excellent cast in this touring production that saves the show from becoming the destruction of feminism as we know it. Each actress in this four-person cast buys in completely to the utter absurdity of the source material to wring the fun out of it. In throwing themselves into the roles and giving their actions on stage just the right nod-and-wink attitude, they allow us the space to buy into the premise and join the fun. Special kudos must be given to Linda Boston, who plays (shudder) “Professional Woman”. Tall and beautiful, with an unparalleled stage presence and voice, Boston actually underplays her lines and anchors the production, giving it much-needed weight and gravitas.
The cast’s combined efforts allow us to see through the flimsy plot, cookie-cutter characters, and an overly-nostalgic view of womanhood to see that this script may, in fact, be slyly subversive just because it exists. In a society when male-pattern baldness is a hot button topic, a play with an all-female cast that discusses hot flashes may be inherently feminist after all.