How fitting that during International Women’s Day celebrations, I happened to find myself at Amity Dry’s comedy cabaret, 39 Forever.
This review is the minority report of this production because I was one of five men in the 100+ audience of women.
In an ironic twist, while Amity was singing and storytelling about how women in their mid-30s and beyond are largely invisible in society, especially on television, I was thrust into the spotlight, catching lots of heads quickly turning away as I glanced around the audience.
And here’s the rub.
While this show is an enjoyable, song-laden, cathartic journey from childhood to motherhood for Amity and her fellow travellers in the audience, its candid and unthreatening style means men would do well to attend to deepen their understanding of the profound themes, doubts, and minutiae that many women confront and struggle with in their lives.
Amity’s humour is “dry”
Amity’s modus operandi for this show is to sing and provide banter as she gives voice to the inner voices that have accompanied her throughout her life.
From the anxious, eager voice of a young Amity, swooping in and out of infatuation with singers and TV stars, to the strong, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar voice of an Amity embracing her upcoming 40s, she never ceases being able to punctuate her narrative with dry, self-deprecating one-liners and reflections that spark laughter and introspection throughout the theatre space.
Perhaps this journey of self-discovery and self-appreciation (botox is not for me!) is brought into sharpest focus as Amity shares some tender insights about her six-year-old daughter’s own journey of self-discovery.
Many of us felt the prickles of imminent tears as we realised that despite our efforts as parents to delay or dismantle society’s apparatus that compels young people, girls in particular, to focus on comparisons between their bodies and others, with a skew towards flaw obsession, this insidious dynamic is still thriving.
How perfect it was that Amity chose to counter this state of affairs with an F-word-cleansed version of Pink’s anthem for self-esteem:
Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel
Like you are less than, less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you’re nothing
You’re perfect to me
While this show does not necessarily cover new ground, it is bound to maintain strong audiences throughout its run because it gives its audience an entertaining and at times poignant shelter from the fickle and the god-you’re-old world that lies outside the tent.
While I agree with Amity’s words that if you’re under 30 you might want to see something else, I disagree with her post-giving-birth quips about her “girls”. IMHO, Amity, your boobs are awesome!
There’s something about 39 Forever that will endear itself to many people and I believe it is the blend of disarmingly honest storytelling, wit, and the sort of soundtrack you’d expect from a gal born in 1978. God, that’s young 🙂