CDP Production

QUT Gardens Point Theatre

18th – 19th May 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Friday often comes and goes by me with a comedy of errors. I like to think I’m part of the Age of Awkward. I threw my back out at the gym while trying to look energetic. As night came around I threw on a scarf and hunched over towards the bus. In the city I banged my leg on a bench. Why was that bench even there in the first place? Clearly it is in the way of my path. As I got closer to QUT’s Gardens Point Theatre the chill bit into me and I wrapped my scarf like a shawl. Waddling up the steps with my sore back and hobbled leg I looked like I was part of the show, another in the cast of Biddies.

Biddies lights up to five little old ladies enjoying a good old “stitch and bitch” in their old classroom. Unforeseen circumstances leave them locked in their coop with nothing but their wits to guide them. The most important thing to remember is they are anything but old. There are songs to be sung, dances to be danced and even gossip sessions that have passed decades. Each biddie reveals their triumphs and flaws of the past. The constant theme of “Men: can’t live with them. Can’t live without them,” is something each woman in the audience can’t help but laugh at.

Just because these ladies are still blasé and youthful in their age does not mean the kids can come along too. I started to self-consciously giggle to myself at some of the crude wisecracks coming from these ladies mouths. It wasn’t long before all of the audience cracked up too, casting aside any guilt in something so rude. It’s anything but a serious affair.  But somehow the jokes reminded me these old ladies have stories we can all relate to. Very cheekily calling out ,“Said the actress to the bishop,” at the drop of a suggestive comment. It sent a shiver down my spine, how similar it was to something I might say to friends. The modern adaption being something along the lines of “That’s what she said!” Though I’m a lady, I would never, ever say such a thing…”

Of all the cast two wildly youthful biddies caught my attention. Donna Lee is no stranger to theatre. Every rude comment, every break into song completed with tap dance and spinning parasols; her role as Connie was behind it. She preempted the laughter for me. On the other end of the character scale was Agnes played by Maggie Blinco. She’s a television icon of four generations in her own right. Watching her take on the role of independent spinster Agnes instilled all the wisdom of a powerful woman every young girl dreams of. She needs no man to save her and with just a dash of Sambuca in her coffee she can quip the words of Shakespeare or Wordsworth. She’s the kind of sassy old woman I wouldn’t mind being when I’ve seen decades of change before my eyes.

Admittedly, Biddies was not particularly my cup of tea. I’m not even a tea drinker. I think that’s the problem. I was craving a flat white from Merlos and I got a cup of Earl Grey.  The play indulges a certain frame of humour, very marginalised with not too many surprises. Not to say the play is uneventful. There are certainly some great surprises in the show.

Ultimately these limitations of genre were no chip on my shoulder. I spent the night laughing, as did everyone else in the theatre. It’s one of those light-hearted pieces of writing that leave you feeling strange. Words like pleasant, or splendid and other adjectives I don’t usually utter come to life. Because that’s what this is: a splendid evening with some anything-but-old Biddies.



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