Comedy by and about women is coming on strong nowadays. Fans eagerly await Lena Dunham’s next show, and Amy Schumer is all over the media, to name just a couple of popular comic artists.
“Girls Only – The Secret Comedy of Women,” the theater piece now playing at the Footlights In Falmouth, traces its inspiration back to an earlier era. Though there are nods to women’s issues such as equal pay and the domestic division of labor, the show is not really out to settle cultural scores or make tough political points. It basically just wants everyone to have a good time. At Tuesday’s performance, the laughs were loud and frequent from the mostly female crowd.
Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein put together “Girls Only” gradually, beginning about a decade ago. It’s based in their improvisatory comedy and, although much of it is scripted, it retains that sort of loose feel of improv. Song, dance, videos and audience participation also figure prominently in the two-woman, 90-minute show.
Local theater veterans Nancy Durgin and Cheryl Reynolds throw themselves completely into the Footlights production, playing middle-aged, middle-class friends who invite the audience into a sort of slumber party based in rediscovered diary entries and other memorabilia from their girlhood. In a set made to resemble a teenager’s bedroom from about 50 years ago, the pair take off on a trip down memory lane that includes a good deal of giggle-inducing, mildly naughty observations on what it was like to grow up female in the mid-20th century.
The audience is drawn into the fun through various polls and quizzes along the way. A couple of them get their purses borrowed and gently ransacked and one gets to be at the center of a skit about a bridal shower.
As directed by Michael J. Tobin, it’s a high-energy show, with a large dose of old-fashioned “prop comedy” thrown in to focus the attention. The varieties of female experience relating to certain undergarments and feminine hygiene products, particularly, are played for seismically silly laughs.
Videos of old TV shows and advertisements provide some context for the character’s history while some newly crafted videos seek to lampoon the period. A little more tie-in between these videos and the stage action might have added another dimension. But, a shadow puppet show on women’s history does offer a welcome creative touch to a show that mostly thrives on the quick and easy laugh.
Near the end, an audience member commented, “It’s fun to laugh together.” This show definitely delivers on that sentiment.
Where: The Footlights, 190 U.S. Rt.1, Falmouth
Review: Tuesday, July 21; continues through Aug. 20
Contact: 207-747-5434; thefootlightsinfalmouth.com