Harriet Beveridge’s show menoPAUSE could be considered uncomfortable by many. She opens with the reaction received by mums at the school gate on revealing the theme. However, Beveridge creates a space where the subject of periods (or lack of) does not feel awkward. In her journey through puberty and beyond, she addresses the symptoms and responses to menopause in a varied and humorous performance.
Beveridge creates a space where the subject of periods (or lack of) does not feel awkward.
Beveridge shows creativity from the wide range of mechanisms used to illustrate her experience, such as a conversation with her unsympathetic doctor highlighting the lack of medical support available to women struggling. I particularly liked a Generation Game conveyor belt of the endless symptoms of menopause, with Beveridge winning them all as her ‘prize.’
The only feature I didn’t quite understand was the voice of a ‘comedy critic,’ who occasionally interrupted the performance to express negative opinions on it. It felt like an unnecessary addition to the show and, as a critic, I was confused to find that the concerns this character raised were not things that bothered me particularly. Apparently I would find the production 'less of a show, more of a rambly rant,’ but I really didn’t. The critic also predicted that I would not like the structure of the performance, but I actually enjoyed the journey through Beveridge’s life as girl’s issues matured into women’s issues.
My main criticism of the production would be that the audience seemed a little lectured at times. Beveridge is keen to stress at the beginning that she’s not going to pick on audience members to share whether their experiences relate to hers, which is a good note to start on. I just wonder whether this causes her to stray into building up too much of a distance from the women (and men) sitting in front of her. The show could have held a more relaxed and conversational tone without singling out individuals.
menoPause definitely fills a gap in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Beveridge discusses issues that are too often kept behind closed doors, leaving masses of women feeling isolated about the same problem, and she tackles such taboos in an amusing way. I, for one, think the school gate mums might enjoy it.