Sunday 16 December 2018

As time goes downhill

  • As Time Goes By, Viking Theatre, Clontarf, Dublin
Susie Kennedy stars in the one-woman show, 'As Time Goes By'
Susie Kennedy stars in the one-woman show, 'As Time Goes By'

Emer O'Kelly

A cabaret show aimed at women of a certain age doesn't quite make it.

Susie Kennedy doesn't quite seem to have decided whether she is a singer, an actor or (whisper!) a preacher. Her one-woman show As Time Goes By, a revival at the Viking Theatre in Clontarf, is a combination of all three elements, although she would probably deny the preacher bit. But the message is defiantly "like yourself as you are".

And, of course, sod the men who don't. Except that women don't think that way in the real world.

It is all based on 1940s and 1950s cabaret songs from Sophie Tucker through to Ella Fitzgerald, and winding up with Sondheim's rueful I'm Still Here from the 1971 musical Follies.

It sets out to be a celebration of being an ''older" woman (I always want to ask: older than what, when I hear the term), and traces the tried and true path of failed diets, with flesh inevitably wending its somewhat weary way southwards, through the debate "to dye, or not to dye?". The latter is dealt with through considerable wit, as Kennedy parodies Hamlet's To be, or not to be with sprightly erudition.

She confides that she always wanted to be Ingrid Bergman: blonde, Swedish, and tall. Instead, she was dealt the hand of small, tubby, dark (currently steel grey) and American. And she tells her audience (almost entirely women of a certain or uncertain age) that they should take cheer from the celebrity beauty status of famous "older" women such as Meryl Streep (sigh!), Helen Mirren (bigger sigh!) and even Joan Collins, although she doesn't mention that Collins is small and dumpy, and is hardly untouched by the surgeon's knife. And, of course, there are also the cynics who might claim the same to be true of the Misses Streep and Mirren, despite loud publicity to the contrary.

All this is followed by a sketch of the apparent downside of becoming forgetful, if not exactly dementia-ridden, and the also apparently inevitable family diktat of nursing home care when you want to continue living alone. This piece of original work contrasts somewhat starkly with the Sophie Tucker number about the lady who likes living alone, doesn't want a husband or children, and buys her male "companionship" when she feels the need.

Perhaps Kennedy isn't quite talented enough to carry it all off, but the overall result is actually profoundly depressing, rather than achieving the intended result of cheering the older members of women's clubs out of the gloom of that condition known as "becoming invisible". And, of course, for an audience composed inevitably of married housewives, there's no mention of the fact that the women she holds up as enviable all earned or earn their own livings.

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