Friday, June 29, 2018

Hot Flush! - Washington Arts Centre - Review

Hot Flush!
Arts Centre Washington
28th June 2018

Presented by Washington Theatre Group
Directed by Angela Marshall
Musical Director Tim Jasper

Hot Flush! is billed as the naughtiest musical in town. In case the title hasn't already given you an inkling, you need to know that this is a menopausal musical - following the everyday experiences of three women as they cope - or not - with mood swings, temperature swings, libido swings, you name it - if it swings they cope with it! Four women united in hormonal imbalance and everything that that entails. Their mostly absent husbands bear the brunt of their discontent, the blame for all the unfairness and inconvenience of the menopause laid at their door. Myra's husband leaves her for a younger, prettier woman, Helen's husband rather selfishly dies unexpectedly, Ingrid's husband retires to his shed, while Sylvia's husband simply can't keep up with her HRT induced sex drive.

The four female cast members give strong performances. The delivery of the lines is well timed and punchy - there are a lot of funny one liners in this  - and the singing is accomplished - some of the harmonies are beautifully sung. There were some problems with the sound at the beginning which might have floored some, but they carried on with professional determination. The issue was quickly remedied and the show went on!

Emma Simpson is assured as Myra, the divorce lawyer who is gradually falling apart in the face of competition from a younger woman. Her venom towards her recalcitrant husband is palpable and she delivers some of the best lines of the show including my favourite - "if she was any younger she'd be a foetus!"

Sarah Clarke plays Helen - a woman lost in a world where her husband is gone and their daughter, off at university is drifting away from her. Her character reminds me of Tracey from Birds of a Feather. I think her performance was the most natural feeling of the four. 

Joanne McLernon is well cast as the American Sylvia - strong willed, physical, she drives the four women forward, sometimes intentionally - making them take up a fitness regime, sometimes unintentionally by becoming the source of scandal and threatening the friendships. 

Ingrid Middleton - is a delight as Jessica, pillar of the church and menopausal shoplifter, doggedly avoiding the advances of the amorous vicar! 

Matt Lowe - as the token man in the show has his work cut out - he plays all the male characters from the son, to the husband, to the lover, and an array of other random men that the women encounter - barman, vicar, doctor, Chinese herbalist, referee, security guard...the list goes on. He sports an array of costumes, wigs, hats, and saucy shorts and shows a fair amount of barefaced cheek in his performance and, perhaps not surprisingly considering the number of costume changes, he sports more than a few misplaced wigs!

This is a naughty musical - it is full of cheek, and sauce! It's a little bit rude and a little bit sweary. It's also very funny and women of a certain age will recognise, empathise and roar with laughter at some of the situations. Leave your PC head at home - there's nothing politically correct about four menopausal women and one poor beleaguered man! It's a lot of fun and a credit to the theatre group that they carry it off with a deal of flair.

Hot Flush is only on till Saturday - grab your girlfriends, a fan and ticket and go see it!

Denise Sparrowhawk

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