Mid Life – The Barbican, London

Reviewer: Sophia Moss

Writer: Sheila Chapman

Director:  Lucy Richardson

“I feel like I’m breathing in with a straw and it’s getting narrower and narrower,” Claire Hodgson says as a beating heart sounds thumps in the background. Mid Life is about the menopause and shines a light on little-talked about subjects like what it’s really like to experience a ‘blood flood’ in public, but more generally it looks at the different experiences of being a middle class woman who doesn’t tend to be the star of the story.

Mid Life is a relaxed performance, which means the lights are half up, you can leave at any time and there is a chill out space available if you need it. The show is also fully accessible for deaf people and is signed throughout. There are suitcases piled one on top of the other in the background, which are later used to let out the performers’ rage.

This performance starts as one woman talking about her clearly privileged experience as a middle-aged business owner who gets annoyed at having to do everything herself, but this quickly changes as the other performers challenge the narrative that the menopause is just about privileged, middle class white women who do yoga. Sound effects – of a beating heart, or a pre-recorded conversation – amplify certain scenes of the show, while the lighting is subtle but well timed.

Kandaka Moore plays a slightly sinister ‘young’ person, who mimics the others movements, slides under suitcases and treats us with her strong singing skills. Karen Spicer is a working class gay woman who nearly died from a mental health illness as a child. Jacqui Beckford is a woman of colour and interpreter who has had to take care of people her whole life. Claire Hodgson is a yoga practicing business owner who sometimes wishes her husband would leave and take the children. Alongside speaking openly about the menopause, this show explores what it’s like to lose your parents in middle age, the importance of (literally) letting out your decades of anger and, most importantly, how it’s okay to be who you are.

Even if you haven’t experienced the menopause, this show will leave you empowered,  perhaps slightly scared but also hopeful for the future. Mid Life is an honest, fresh and unfiltered exploration of this chapter in a woman’s life and has something to offer everyone.

Runs until  22nd February 2020

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Empowering and fresh

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