Hot flashes. Sagging breasts. Raging hormones. Uncontrollable tears. Hairy chins. No one said that menopause is a pleasant time in a woman’s life. Of course in American culture, no one has really discussed “the change of life” at all. Until Rose Weaver, a local entertainment legend, melded her and other women’s experiences together into the collection of monologues known as Menopause Mama.

This performance shines as a one-woman show. Each vignette transforms Weaver into a dramatically different, but equally significant character. One minute, a naïve preteen girl is babbling on and on comically about the misfortunes of menstruation. After describing ten days of painful PMS and five days of menstruation, the character simply concludes, “my life is in fifteen day fragments!” She appears later in the performance on her way to the local homeless shelter with a box full of her mother’s sanitary pads and tampons. Since her mother is in the initial stages of menopause, “she doesn’t need them anymore.

A few moments later, an older Jamaican woman weaves a tale of depression and loss of sexual intimacy with her husband. Since menopause began, she can no longer enjoy reading the morning paper-every story causes her to cry uncontrollably. She is now forced to write all ideas into a notebook for fear that a thought may be forgotten.

Still another character tells a tale of heartache and prejudice as she and her female partner attempt to have a child through artificial insemination. They choose the less expensive option of “home fertilization” to avoid the stares of others at the sperm bank.

These and the other female character in these stories have far more depth and vitality than the few men that Weaver scatters throughout Menopause Mama. I am not sure if the male characters and their themes were added at a later date to attract more men to the performance, but I feel that they are not needed at all. These monologues work together wonderfully as female only pieces.

While others have compared Weaver’s work to the wildly successful Vagina Monologues, I couldn’t disagree more. The Vagina Monologues are very dark works, brazen and in your face. They make the audience want to rise up out of their seats in anger over the social and political injustices against women. Weaver’s pieces, much like the radiant pink hues of the stage, blend together and flow rather smoothly over the many topics that encompass growing older. None of Menopause Mama‘s scenes are earth shattering or overly startling. Weaver gets the point across in a more seasoned, classy manner.

Menopause Mama truly has the heart and soul to become a national touring sensation. Weaver’s acting, storytelling and singing abilities are put to the test for this performance and she passes with flying colors. Each song in this performance is catchy and worthy of its own soundtrack. I highly recommend this performance for anyone-mother and daughter, husband and wife, female friends out on the town.

Menopause Mama is currently playing at Perishable Theatre now through June 29th. For tickets, call Perishable at 401-331-2685, extension 101

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