THE THREE MENOPAUSAL MAIDS - CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION
In a comedy world dominated by stand up, it’s good to know that the old-fashioned sketch format is alive and, if not kicking, at least twitching with life. ‘The Three Menopausal Maids’, part of the pre-Edinburgh season, presented a variety of skits around the theme of getting older. These more mature ladies worked hard to get the laughs and they were certainly there to be had although somewhat sparsely distributed in the 50-minute show.
In a sauna-like theatre they began dressed in heavy fairy tale costumes. It’s a shame that this was the first sketch as it was the weakest offering of the show – a very odd premise that three cartoon characters (including Snow White) run an airline to ‘somewhere over the rainbow’. Every in-flight cliché was milked (safety drills, mile-high-club gags….you know the kind of thing) though few of the jokes managed a clear lift off.
There followed another sketch about a trio of ageing 80s girl band members gathering for a come-back recording session. Period songs were liberally quoted but the problem was that the material just wasn’t strong enough to hold up the conceit, the characters too thinly drawn and it all fell a little flat. Things recovered well with a clever (if overlong) sketch of two posh ladies in hats talking in street gangsta language. It failed to go anywhere but the performances got, and deserved, the biggest laughs of the night.
The best spoof was left till towards the end and here the comedy started to come alive. There was a touch of true poignancy in the three old ladies waiting in the hairdressers. We were clearly in Alan Bennett/Victoria Wood country – ‘I had an all-nighter last night (coos of admiration); yes I managed to sleep without getting up for a wee’. They were believable characters which meant that one could engage with them in the spaces between the gags.
The show ended with a whimper – a half-hearted version of the G&S ‘Three Little Maids’ song and a casual walk off stage. That was a shame because with a bit more stage oomph and some necessary re-writes for Edinburgh, this could become a really engaging little show. The three performers have a lot of showbiz charisma and really spark against each other.. I am looking forward (a long way off) to the seeing the ‘Three Post-Menopausal Maids’