It’s turning out to be a festival of funny feminist theatre for me. This one is a highly engaging show built upon an excellent script that tells the mythological tale of an ageing protagonist’s quest to confront the mighty Kronos, God of time. It combines snappy dialogue full of smart and pertinent jokes, a medley of hilarious costumed characters, and a versatile set providing plenty of visual surprises. It is also finely structured to maintain forward momentum through the story, and a clear sense of purpose as it addresses the topic.
It begins with the entrance of two fantastically costumed shamanic figures, to the sound of drones and horns. The performers emerge from these and introduce themselves as two ladies in their 50s, ‘on the turn’ and becoming ‘free of the shackles of being physically attractive’. They are here to confront the process of ageing through the telling of a mythological tale. This marks one of multiple breaks from the action, in which the performers share real stories from their lives. These interludes serve to ensure we’re all following the metaphors, and rescue themselves from becoming too earnest or over-explanatory by timely self-deprecations and sudden returns to comic grotesquery. The piece also references the ambiguities and contradictions between a feminist repudiation that ageing should matter, and their own desire for a handsome young man to turn up along the way.
They take turns playing the part of the Protagonist, who first encounters a three-headed spirit guide who gives three magical gifts – a Tongue Sharpener, some Spectacles of Insight, and a Cloak of Invisibility (a long, beige and baggy cardigan that renders the older woman invisible to society). The metaphors are both humorous and insightful, and whilst punctuated with whimsical asides, the show sticks to its journey to deliver a coherent narrative and a reflective parody of our deepest concerns.
Other characters include two snaggle-toothed seers, an Italian cosmetic surgeon, and a long-haired gatekeeper – all wonderful creations which feature the best use of wigs I have witnessed in a very long time. There’s a very endearing puppet scene performed by a volunteer from the audience, and a spectacular shiny celebration of diva-hood at the end. Kronos does indeed deliver a satisfyingly persuasive philosophical take-away, and we get an inspiring song in which they reject the notion of a ‘bucket list’ in favour of a ‘fuck-it list’.
Overall, it’s a finely honed marriage of style and content, with the frequently hilarious stage business employed to serve a greater purpose: super-efficient, highly effective and near flawless. Whether or not they themselves can fully embrace Kronos’s advice, I’m not sure, but I imagine that creating a clear Fringe hit like this must have potent powers of rejuvenation.