Sunday, 24 June 2007

Women on the Verge - Oldham Coliseum

Women on the Verge by Marie Jones
Oldham Coliseum Theatre : 21 June - 14 July
Directed by Natalie Wilson
Reviewed by Greg Kelly

The first thing to point out in this review is that I am a 22-year-old bloke going see a play about the trials and tribulations of being a middle age woman. Not mention one of the main issues in the play being ‘The Dreaded Change,’ The Menopause! I really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. However, when watching the play I aimed to look at this piece objectively. (If that’s at all possible!)

Women On The Verge is a three handed comedy piece. Nice & simple! Susie Baxter plays Anna (Lovable character obsessed with Daniel O’Donnell), Kate Layden plays Vera (hard faced, cynical woman & bitterly unhappy not to have found love) and finally Thomas K Lappin plays Fergal (Daniel O’donnell parody), amongst other characters.

The Set design was simple and put to good use. Each of the cast members performance was strong in it’s own right. Although Kate Layden at times stutterd over her lines & Susie Baxter had a tendency to over-act. Women On The Verge is a comedy drama and it lived up to that. It was funny in parts, with some very good one-liners. (Which frequently came from Anna & Vera). Their relationship and friendship on stage was strong. There was clear chemistry between the two characters. The first appearance of Fergal was subtle and precise. As the play develops we began to see more and more of this pivotal character.

The main problem with the first Act and indeed the second Act was the use of music within the piece. In no shape or form before watching the piece was I given the clue that it was a musical. In Act 1 Kate Laydens character breaks out into song. It was almost comical for the wrong reasons. It didn’t seem to fit at all with style of the play and it was highly contrived. This occurred a second and third time in Act 1, by each character in the piece. Not only was the problem that it didn’t seem to fit in with the style of the piece, but that they were all very average (borderline poor) singers.

The script throughout was comical and witty. The first Act passed by quickly without seeming to drag. Act two had a completely different feel to it. It was a different setting and appeared to be a dreamlike sequence. Within this sequence Anna & Vera had visions of certain people in their lives. All these visions were played by Thomas K Lappin. The audience were very receptive to his versatility. However, I felt the five characters he played could have been more defined vocally. There was no differentiation between the 5 characters and his main character, Fergal.
As the play comes to its conclusion, Vera unexpectedly finds love with Daniel O’Donnell, I mean Fergal. Also, predictably Anna and Vera have learnt more about themselves etc…and their strong friendship remains.

Women On The Verge is a good piece with both strong and weak moments. The play looks at the issue of menopause and middle age without trying to tackle any issues, but merely highlighting them in an often comical fashion. If not for the unintentional comical singing, Women On The Verge is a play (musical) worth seeing. It’s fundamental principal is to entertain and both the audience and I on leaving The Oldham Coliseum would of agreed that it achieved that end.
Women on the Verge continues its run until the 14th July for more information please visit

Photos show: Kate Layden as Vera and Susie Baxter as Anna and Kate Layden and Thomas Lappin as Vera and Fergal:
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