Edinburgh Fringe Review: Charmian Hughes, Cowgatehead

Earlier today I saw a show called Come Look At The Baby, which is basically a baby sitting on a chair gurgling and grinning for thirty minutes. Cute of course, but round the corner on Cowgate you will get a lot more sense out of Charmian Hughes, aged 60.

In the neatly-titled Soixante Mirth Hughes reflects on her sixty glorious years employing the well-used but useful device of meeting her younger self (Jordan Brookes does this too). So we get the vintage-dressed raconteur flitting back through the decades, starting with her childhood being brought up by an Edwardian mum who refused to acknowledge that there was a permissive society. Virginity was prized unless you were married, recalls our guide: “We hung onto it until we really wanted the money.”

Hughes paints an evocative picture of a very different time for the middle classes, where the only science women were taught was domestic science, ie cookery, so that they could be good wives. Fathers were largely absent and girls wanted ponies and then boys. Hughes went from one to the other with a brief pause to enjoy the Monkees. 

The story moves on to Hughes as she was growing up into the adult she is today. Would her wild and free 25-year-old self view her 60-year-old self as a sellout, what with her mortgage and her antique pasta jar collection? Well, you’ll have to see the show to find out.

There are lots of lovely lines and a few surprises as the story continues which I won’t spoil. Charmian is a charmingly scatty chatterbox, although I can’t quite tell if this is a cleverly cultivated stage style or what happens when you hit sixty. A show that you don’t have to have a Senior Railcard to enjoy, though you may enjoy it a bit more if you can remember the Monkees from the first time round.

Until Aug 27. Info here.

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