Introducing: Menopause The Musical

Have you put your mobile in the fridge recently? Perhaps you've forgotten your husband's birthday. Maybe you were wide awake at three this morning and had two breakfasts. 

If so, it could be - whisper it softly - that you're entering the silent passage; you're going through 'the change'. 

In which case, away with the euphemisms: Menopause The Musical could be just the thing to cheer you up. 

Universal to women in a way that even having children, being married, getting divorced or losing weight are not - the menopause unites us. Yet we don't talk about it. 

A few media women, such as Germaine Greer and Woman's Hour presenter Jenni Murray, have broken the silence with books, but now we can all sing and dance about it. 

The show, written by American Jeanie Linders is just about to open in London. Featuring 25 songs about the menopause - from Hot Flush, an updated version of Rod Stewart's Hot Legs, to Stayin' Awake! Stayin' Awake!, a remake of the Bee Gees disco hit - they're all tunes anyone over 40 knows. 

Actress Su Pollard, who plays one of the musical's four women in mid-life crisis, loves them all. 

"Sweats, flushes and the end of your periods are just a few of the things you go through," says Su, who became a household name after playing Peggy Ollerenshaw in Hi-de-Hi and is now - astonishingly - 57. 

She chose to take HRT at the onset of her own menopause but hasn't been immune from all the symptoms. 

"When you're going through it, you can stand on the edge of the pavement and not be able to make up your mind whether to cross or not. You dither. You feel dizzy and you eat odd things at odd times of the day. I've put my handbag in the oven before now. 

"All this goes on and nobody talks about it. People pretend it's not happening, even to their friends. 

The action starts at a lingerie counter during the sales. The four women are all interested in the same black lace bra. As is only natural in the parallel universe of the musical, they soon break into song and go from department to department exchanging stories and songs about their menopause experiences. They're a varied lot - a mousey housewife, a career woman, a soap star and an earth mother - but they're all going through the same thing. 

Their bodies are behaving in a new and unfamiliar way which they can't control. 

Su plays a housewife from Rutland, all apologies, sexual disappointment and self-effacement. 

"My character would like to be Prada but is more Primark," she says. "I spend a lot of time clutching my purse to my chest. She doesn't sound like me, but she's an aspect of many women, me included. 

"You can get so tired and indecisive in the menopause. You go from being thoroughly in charge to hardly being able to decide what to do next. But the menopause is a done deal. You can't get out of it." 

Su is a Vagina Monologues veteran and feels strongly that women need to re-write the menopause story. 

"We have a finale where everyone comes out looking terrific - we've shopped our way round the store. So we're saying: 'Yes, we've got mood swings and we can't remember what we did with the groceries, but don't we look great?' 

"A long time ago, male doctors and writers gave women the idea that once your reproductive life was over, life itself might as well be over. What was the point of non-reproductive women? And women with bad symptoms could end up in an asylum. 

"So this silence descends and a sort of secret competition goes on among your friends not to be the one who goes into the menopause first," says Su, who keeps trim with Pilates and brisk walks. 

"Well, I'm not finished, I'm just hormonally challenged. And if you come through this without stacking on loads of weight, you feel liberated and good about yourself." 

Daily Mail
February 2007