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The Virginia Monologues: Why Growing Old is Great

Virginia Ironside
Scamp Theatre
The Rose, Kingston

Sitting in the Virginia Monologues: Why Growing Old is Great I was one of two token young people in the audience, and we were certainly forty years under the average. In truth, I wondered what I was letting myself in for, after being informed we may as well leave now. Virginia’s warm welcome was “any young people here? Don’t worry you’ll soon grow out of it”.

Despite my reservations, Virginia’s clipped Queen's English tones soon had the audience giggling, and, more often than not, laughing aghast at her hideous revelations. Virginia was settled onstage amongst the interior of the flat décor from the Rose’s resident production of Home, merrily rattling through subjects from memory loss and ailments, glamorous dressing gowns all the way through to fun funerals. Oh the joyful subjects of age!

Particularly wonderful were her impressions of an old person attempting to read a map whilst driving; the inevitable glasses switch from long distance to reading before forgetting what the map's directions were. She certainly would make a compelling argument for satnavs also being issued at sixty along with the free bus pass.

Despite finding Virginia’s tales delightful, I certainly never forgot that I was the youngest audience member there. Thinking about it, older women comedians are rarely seen broadcast on TV. Or perhaps there’s a general gap in the market for all elderly stand-ups. I can perhaps now attest for why, despite being just as amusing as a younger comedian, the subject matter might drive the younger viewers to early euthanasia.

Virginia divulged horrors, such as the old people's perpetual dripping nose and every ailment under the sun. The things to look forward to were dozing and a newfound confidence to say no to frankly terrible events. When she moved onto sex, the audience waited warily, but instead of revealing sordid details, Virginia plainly stated she’d had enough to last a lifetime and was thankful for a rest. Besides think of “all those different positions with arthritis”…

A poignant moment settled around the theatre as she discussed death and the enormity of losing someone. After a well-judged exploration of this heavier material, she hopped over to slightly softer ground with the introduction of grandchildren, describing them as a “reward for not killing your children”. Finally wrapping up the evening with a sentimental tale with her grandchild, many of the audience seemed to be at ease with their growing years.

Virginia started the show by stating that when she was young she hated old people with their ever separating teeth and general pong. Thankfully for me, the lovely residents of Kingston merely covered the theatre in a fug of talcum powder and the stereotypical gran's perfume. In some of the lengthier anecdotes, there was the odd sound of heavy breathing as an elderly member slipped into a doze, luckily awakened with peals of laughter before the snoring started. This was a thoroughly enjoyed, witty take on old age. I can only hope there will be an elderly comedian to cheer me up when I reach the dripping nose stage of life.

Reviewer: Louise Lewis