The stage is set for the arrival of Georgie (Georgina Roberts), whose fortieth birthday is today. Her best friends Vicki (Vicki Manderson) and Sarah (Sarah Goddard) are determined that Georgie will celebrate with them… but she has other ideas. For her, this big birthday equals a mid-life crisis, the planting of a large seed of doubt about whether there is any point to life from here on. After all, she argues, dreams that haven't yet been fulfilled will probably now never happen.
The three friends embark on an adventure together, which evolves into a surreal epic Odyssey where Georgie is tested to the limits. There are some lovely moments, such as the Women's Institute cake-baking scene and the stories told about women who were instrumental in changing history. Many of these are not just informative, but genuinely fascinating.
Roberts is fabulous as the reluctant birthday girl, and the transformation from a frumpy and depressed late-thirty-something to a daring, all-singing, all-dancing diva – who literally and metaphorically lets her hair down – is a joy to see. Manderson and Goddard also do a great job, selflessly supplying everything else that needs to happen around the storyline. Congratulations are also due for their handling of the huge number of props, deployed skilfully and to great effect throughout.
The concept is a good one; reaching that milestone day can be a real time of reflection and evaluation for some. But if I'm honest, I found the production a little too earnest, and far too wordy – especially as one of the company’s strengths is clearly their physical theatre skills. It’s complicated, too; there were moments where I felt quite lost and struggling to work out where the piece was heading.
The final musical number, involving all three women, is an uplifting one. But to steal a line from the play: “A good cake is like life, you just need the right ingredients...” Sadly, I think this production had a few too many ingredients; plenty of tasty moments, but a little over-baked for me.