It is said that once women reach a certain age, they become ‘invisible’. If this is so, there is one subject that is even more absent in ‘polite’ conversation – the menopause. Performed by the Yellow Coat Theatre Company, Of Course I’m Hot… I’m 50! addresses the emotional aspects of undergoing ‘the change’ and how it affects relationships.
Although it isn’t explicitly stated, one suspects that the core of the show is autobiographical in nature, based on the experiences of writer and co-director Caron Kehoe. The show begins Kehoe listening to a radio chat show and the embarrassment regarding the discussion of ‘the change’. While the programme’s panel is able to discuss the physiological aspects of the menopause at length and how it varies from person to person, how it affects women emotionally is never addressed.
Most of the rest of the show deals with Kehoe herself looking back on her life – from her days at university to the present. Relationships are very important to the narrative and none more so than with the ‘triumvirate’: Kehoe’s mother (Fiona White), best friend (Amy Fleming) and of course her husband (Duncan King).
While we see Kehoe progress from a woman in her 20s to middle-aged, we see how the menopause first affects her mother and the subsequent dementia. While her best friend is her other touchstone, their lives aren’t identical – nor do they have the same outlook on marriage and children. By spending much time on the milestones of the marriage and her own stint of motherhood, we see how symptoms of the menopause (such as memory lapses) impact on everyday life. But who is there to talk about this? To be able to give sage advice without feeling embarrassed?
Tonally, maintans that delicate balance between being truthful and candid, but when appropriate, amusing and insightful.
Ever since the onset of adolescence, it was inferred that menstruation made Kehoe “a woman” and she enjoyed the sense of pride in her mother’s eyes. However, Kehoe asks from an emotional perspective whether she really ‘feels’ any less of a woman now. In creating a show like this, Kehoe highlights that contrary to society’s labels, a woman’s worth and identity isn’t dictated by their ability to bear children, but by the accumulated experience of her life. As for the ‘taboo’ about talking about the menopause, once the stigma of ‘getting old’ is eradicated, then frank discussions can take place about its physiological impact and the best way to nurture emotional well-being.
© Michael Davis 2019
Of Course I’m Hot… I’m 50! runs at the Vault Festival until 3rd February (6pm).
Writer, co-director, performer: Caron Kehoe
Co-director: Imogen Cahill
Performer: Emma Lamond
Performer: Fiona White
Performer: Amy Fleming
Performer: Matthew Stewart
Performer: Duncan King