Translating a talking heads TV show into a stage performance was always going to be a big ask. Grumpy Old Women, the pithy BBC production, works because it’s full of talented women, basically given free reign to talk about whatever shits them. It benefits greatly from editing. Its gentle pace and clever, dry timing is testament to this.
The unavoidable and obvious question when approaching the stage translation of such a program is how? How can a producer manage to make a heavily edited bunch of television heads fill the Capitol Theatre’s stage?
The other question that honestly presents is why? Why would I, a non-old grump, or the significant male readership of the SSO, attend such a show?
Opening night answered the second question first. The show is camp in the great British tradition, with jokes about farts and handbags. The gay men I saw at interval thought it hilarious. And despite the title, there’s not too much age-specific stuff -“ we can all relate to the torture of trying not to fart during a massage.
Comedian Jenny ?lair has plenty of on-stage experience, and pulls off her mad character well. Dillie Keane, a West End veteran, is a pleasant surprise. She does posh grumbling perfectly, and her solo pieces are hilarious.
Less impressive, unfortunately, is the best-known and most-loved one of the trio, Linda Robson. She’s most famous in Australia for her 102-episode, every-woman turn in Birds Of A Feather, and you get the impression from the audience that she’s the one most people have turned up to see.
Robson is funny but her material falls flat and, on the night I saw the show, the delivery was also slightly off.
The show’s been re-written for a local audience, with dodgy local versions of the show’s jokes. The cultural references are not quite spot on -“ teasing middle-aged women for owning a Shannon Noll CD is probably less effective than teasing them for owning a Michael Bubl?D, given the Kath And Kim dagginess of the latter.
But I left laughing, and laughed through most of the show. It might be daggy and slapstick, but it’s funny. And with tickets starting at $45 (C Reserve), it’s a great one to take Mum to.
Grumpy Old Women Live runs until Sunday 29 April at the Capitol Theatre, Haymarket. Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au.