Abigail Dooley and Emma Edwards are promising a riotous, surreal odyssey through the challenges of growing older, exploding myths about beauty, sex and femininity as they head towards Chichester Festival Theatre’s Spiegeltent with Enter the Dragons (November 11-12, 7pm, age 14+).
Expect fantastical characters, ridiculous puppetry, extreme wigs, physical comedy and delightfully dark humour in 60 minutes of “laugh-out-loud joy, dissent and touching humility for anyone who is considering ageing.”
As Abigail explains: “A couple of years ago we were getting very frustrated at not seeing very positive images of ageing, especially of women getting older.
“We decided that we would make a show bringing out all the good things, being positive about it, finding the humour in the process.”
As she says, growing old is far better than the alternative: “The fact is that we don’t actually have a choice about it, so we thought we might as well look at it all with taste and positivity and humour. And actually we have found some gems.”
The downside for the ladies is the menopause: “It is a massive change physically, mentally, hormonally, but also if you are a woman in your 50s, the chances are you are in a care sandwich with the children not old enough that you are not still looking after them, but also your parents getting elderly.
“ There is a lot of pressure – and you can be feeling a bit squeezed in the middle.
“But also the chances are that you have reached a stage in your life when you are starting to question a few things, so potentially it really can be such a negative moment when it feels like everything comes crashing in.
“But we are trying to look at the flipside to all that.
“And I think the biggest good thing is that there is so much that you couldn’t actually give a **** about. We call it not giving a **** and giving a ****. You find that you just don’t worry so much about the small things, and you have got a far better idea about what really matters.
“And you are not so concerned about what people think of you.
“And the other thing is the empty nest, but actually you can put some wonderful things in that nest. If you have put your career on hold to have children, you can get back to your career or you can change your career… but really I think finally having space and time is the real discovery.”
Not surprisingly, the show has had a great reaction: “At first we were a bit unsure when we first took it out because it is quite a surreal show.
“There is some very surreal humour and we weren’t quite sure how that would translate, but we have found that we have got some very good metaphors in the show for the ageing process.
“With the menopause, women can feel that they are entering another physical world entirely. Everything shifts quite dramatically. We have got characters who are seers and mentors, and we like the idea of a mythical world.
“Plus it makes us laugh hugely when we have got long arms and strange teeth.
“Being playful and humorous about it all is a good way to tackle a subject which can be a bit deep and dark at its core…”
And it works, Emma believes, because she and Abigail come from quite a similar background and share similar obsessions: “I had a company that did mask work and Abigail came and directed a show for us. We just hit it off.”
On stage, the division isn’t straight woman/funny woman, as Emma explains: “I am bossy, and I think I am really intellectual… and Abigail is mostly an idiot!
“She is very enthusiastic and does my ideas. She is my wingman. But I am more of an idiot really because I am letting her get away with it!
“It is classic clown stuff.”