BBC RADIO DERBY
WITH ANDY POTTER
BBC RADIO DERBY
WITH ANDY POTTER
ANDY: Toyah is coming to the Derby Assembly Rooms with a new stage show. Tell me all about “Hormonal Housewives”
TOYAH: (on the phone) Well, it's a three hander, three actresses on stage, obviously I'm one of them. It's done very much without the invisible wall between the stage and the audience, it's performed as stand-up. Even though it's scripted it's a laugh every five seconds which is something I've never done before - especially if you do something like Shakespeare or Christopher Hampton or something like that.
It's about women, it celebrates women, it's not political and it's certainly not feminist other than feminism paves the way for this kind of comedy to be possible. It's bawdy, it's Chaucerian, it's surprisingly naughty. Men are welcome but they really have to enjoy the banter of women.
ANDY: Is it a bit like when I go to things like “The Vagina Monologues” and you sit there and you're thinking "hang on, everybody's looking at me!"
TOYAH: No. Well, there is a bit of that because we only have about six men per show but we do make a fuss of the men that we can see. But “The Vagina Monologues” is a serious piece and it has a serious message.
I'm not saying that “Hormonal Housewives” is frivolous but it is comedy and it is incredibly successful as comedy. It's very fast moving, it's a proper theatre length show but every time the interval arrives I feel as though I've only just blinked! It's so much fun!
ANDY: Are there lots of knowing glances between you then?
TOYAH: Oh, God yeah! Because we talk directly to the audience and it's an observational piece about women's lives. So it's all about recognition. And you get huge waves of reaction come back at you when you say something. Like at the beginning of act two I say “did you all have a tasty treat to tide you over?”, now only a woman would get that. I'm not being patronising or condescending but out sugar levels go up and down like a yoyo.
It's little lines like that that recognise the biology of a woman that gets the reactions in this show. We do one scene that when I read it I thought “how's that going to work?” and it's a scene about a woman trying on a size 16 coat that she's convinced is a size 12 because it doesn't fit her.
When I read that I though "oh, that's a bit normal" – it sets the house on fire! And you never realise how much these things mean to women that different shops have different interpretations of clothes sizes. And how frustrated women are with all of this. But the reactions we get are enormous!
ANDY: Were you prepared for this when you went into it, the first time you stepped out on stage to do it, did you know what was going happen?
TOYAH: No, we rehearsed it as a play and we rehearsed it without laughter there and the very first night we did it we added ten minutes to the show because the laughter is so extreme.
You obviously wait for it and you let it to grow and some jokes you have to give five seconds for the punch line to hit the brain! So it did take us about a week to accept the laughter as part of the journey.
ANDY: What's it like now for you Toyah - I've seen you on stage in a manner of things, musicals, theatre, doing serious stuff, playing new music as well … you're astride many different things in your career. Is that a nice place to be?
Photo by burningambition.com
TOYAH: That's really difficult to answer because any performer always worries about tomorrow. I don't know, I find that hard to answer because you always wonder if you'd explored one avenue more what would've happened. I always have to work so I took the work I was offered and it tended to be very varied.
Perhaps that's what I'm suppose to be doing and I accept that. You know the question you've asked is a difficult one to answer because I think partly it's because when you get older you don't feel so secure in the world as you did in your 40's or your 30's because you're dealing with your own mortality as you get older. So no, I don't always wake up and think "oh, it's great to be me." I'm always wondering about the future.
ANDY: We're never more than one click away from your past. What you think about that young girl?
TOYAH: I don't think about it often – but there is a sense of pride. I don't think about it often and I think for what I was in a world that's so obsessed about physicality I think I did really well.
And a world obsessed with female perfection - I'm astounded how well I did. But I don't really think that about too often.
ANDY: What would you say to that youngster? Now what you know, and what you've done and where you are and where you are when it comes to people coming to see you, that audience that comes to see you? Would you give yourself any advice?
TOYAH: Yeah, learning doesn't stop at the school gates. It's always learn learn learn. I never believed in technique when I was younger, everything game from will power.
And I was very lackadaisical about learning and I say to everyone I meet – learn as much technique as you can because you need that technique to be creative. So I always say do not dis learning. Learn learn learn and never stop.
ANDY: What's it like to tour the country in this production?
TOYAH: It's fantastic because it's doing incredibly well, it's doing a lot better than some stage shows – probably because we're only doing one night in each town. But it is really fantastic doing comedy when the kind of forecast is so gloomy.