Putting the frighteners on men

Hormonal Housewives

Wolverhampton Grand

****

“WHEN women get together, men get frightened” so we, men that is, are told at the start of this adventure deep into girl's night out territory.

It probably does frighten men a little to see how risqué, all right let's be honest, downright mucky women can get when in massed ranks.

And this show is mucky, full of references to sex, assorted bits and bodily functions – with sound effects to boot. It is in your face girl power, or at least within the middle aged woman's sphere of influence leaving pinnies behind in the kitchen.

It is also very funny. These days, particularly with the internet, it is easy to churn out a list of sexist jokes and one liners against men . . . or women for that matter, but Julie Coombe , who stars as well as writes the show with husband MacIssac, has managed to pick out the better lines, giving them new twists and reworked freshness - and even came up with a few new lines.

The format is simple with three hormonal housewives Toyah Willcox, Coombe and Sarah Jane going through the trials and tribulations of womanhood interspersed with sketches which take us to the gym, the school gates, holidays, teen years and so on.

In truth the sketches are a bit of a curate's egg with the school gate sketch set around the PTA particularly weak and, as one with years of PTA experience to draw on,  didn't really manage a recognisable character.

TWEETING

The teen sketch also struggled a little, as much from many of the audience of hormonal age housewives not having a clue about tweeting or facebook as anything else.

The gym sketch had its moments with plenty of visual humour particularly from Coombe, who is a very funny lady. Willcox might be billed as the star but it is Coombe who steals the show, confirmed by the cheers at the end.

There is also a book club sketch based on mummy porn's 50 shades which is both funny and hardly complimentary about what has become a publishing phenomenon.

One suspects Coombes, a writer as well as an actor remember, is taking the chance to express a rather more personal opinion on a book whose literary qualities and standard of writing are memorable for the wrong reasons.

There are telling nods as well for the trying on a coat sketch where everyone in the audience has found the size they think they are which no longer fits. The obvious explanation being that the label must be wrong.. We have a friend who swears in all seriousness that M&S are making their sizes smaller because she can no longer get in the size she has always been.

It all ends with a bit of a knees up as the disco days return to end what is a fun evening – even men enjoyed it.

Mark Walter's set is a bit nightmare on Sesame Street with what look like three Fisher Price house fronts that have melted in the sun, representing, one assumes, the mental anguish and turmoil within the brain of a hormonal housewife.

While Ken Alexander's direction keeps things moving along at a decent pace, which is an essential in what is essentially a sketch show.

It is fun, at times filthy, full of belly laughs and just made for a girls' (of a more mature vintage) night out. To 03-04-13.

Roger Clarke

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