Liturgical dancing, chairacise in luridly-coloured, home-crocheted active wear, excessive drinking and excessive body hair, Norman Swan as the object of sexual desire: Still Here has it all.
I imagine calling these two national treasures consummate professionals might invite further lashings of satire from Jude and Scotty, but that’s exactly what they are. Their hour-long show delivered to a packed and enthusiastic audience in the Garden of Unearthly Delights’ Babylon was seamless, and kept the belly laughs coming from start to finish.
Two armchairs and plentiful props furnish a fictional re-creation of the pair in endless lockdown (“Waiting for COVID”) inside their shared apartment. Jude has learned to play a tiny harp and Denise has acquired fluency in Mandarin – and then, off they go, unstoppable.
It’s the gusto with which these two women embrace topics most of us think about but avoid discussing in polite company that tickles ribs; they push things right to the edge of appropriateness while somehow making you feel safe along with the laughter, as if you’re spending an evening with several bottles of wine and a couple of beloved aunties.
As they and their devoted fans grow older, it isn’t just the comedy they provide but a certain relief that comes from being able to laugh at the indignities that come with ageing, especially for women, and at the COVID-induced struggle for mental and emotional equilibrium that almost everyone will recognise, especially for lockdown-depleted Melbournians. Jude and Scotty are providing a service, really. The show should come with a Medicare rebate.
Their glittering showstopper of a number that concludes their act unleashed a well-earned torrent of cheers, applause and love.
The predominance of greying heads in the audience marks the devotion these two women have earned over the decades with the irresistibly irreverent and relatable material they’ve consistently delivered over the years. But there were enough post-generation-Xers in the audience to ensure that – despite their arthritic knees, bushfire-igniting, post-menopausal vaginas and beautician-neglected-goatees – Jude and Scotty will still be here far into the future. Or for as long as they can be arsed to keep touring, anyway.
Judith Lucy & Denise Scott: Still Here is at the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 20.
Read more 2022 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews here.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.