APRIL 2013

STUART: I'm very happy to say I'm joined by Toyah Willcox! Hello!

TOYAH: (on the phone) hello! How are you doing?

STUART: I'm very well, thank you! Now, we are talking about “Hormonal Housewives” which you are touring at the moment?

TOYAH: Absolutely, we're doing a tour of 67 shows!

STUART: My goodness, that is a long tour isn't it?

TOYAH: It's a long one, yeah, different towns every night.

STUART: So from the name, the name itself has quite a few different connotations you can take from “Hormonal Housewives”. What is the show about?

TOYAH: Well, actually the show is three actresses on stage, we're all playing ourselves but we also play six characters and it's a series of sketches. And it's absolutely joyous! I wouldn't say that we're trying to make any statement, I wouldn't say this is feminist or political, it's just a fantastically observational comedic piece. Most amazing subtle things make the house catch fire. 

I never knew that a scene could be written about dress and coat sizes but every woman in that auditorium just recognises what's been said and they just go wild. There's a lot of moments like that in this particular production which are just utterly normal and yet totally outrageous at the same time. And I think that's what makes it stand apart in a similar genre.

STUART: Yes, because there has been quite a few over the last few years, the “Vagina Monologues”, the same kind of – aimed at women anyway as you were saying -

TOYAH: Yeah, aimed at the female audience. But this is nothing like the “Vagina Monologues”. Everyone has a smile and a huge laugh every 30 seconds. It's fun, it's very naughty, it's bawdy, it's a bit Chaucerian and I think part of it's beauty is it's so naughty -

STUART: You say it's aimed at women but if men were to come with their wives and girlfriends, are they going to be sitting there embarrassed or anything like that?

TOAYH: Well, I don't think embarrassed is the right word – I mean it's exclusive because I've never seen more than four or five men out there and we adore men – this is not a man hating show. This is like the secret voice of women. 

And it's a bit of a revelation for men and we've never had a man walk out, they love it, they get all the attention because there is so few in there and they get talked to. But they're so welcome and I say if men really love female company you'll enjoy this show.

STUART: I mean which man doesn't to be honest!

TOYAH: Well, there you go!

STUART: Yeah, exactly! So the show has been written by a husband and wife team so they must be taking ideas or thoughts about what's happened in their own relationship to write this show?

TOYAH: They've taken bits from everywhere to write this show. Julie Coombe (above on the right) is also in the play. It's incredibly observational, she does not miss a thing. You can be walking down the street and she'll see something and she'll write a sketch about it. She's got that kind of imagination and that kind of keen eye that she can just pick something up and remember it. I can't do that, I need a script before I can tell a joke. 

It's fantastic that's she's written this with her husband and a lot of care has gone into it – it's not patronising, it's not condescending and it's not insulting to women and I think that's why it works so well. But everyone in the play – well, I say everyone, there's only three of us – but we all bring our own stories to the table. 

I've opted out from having family and children so I bring that to the table, we talk about that and explore it and Julie explores the fact that she has children. So it's very inclusive all of all types of women.

STUART: And from your perspective, the vast array of things you've done in your career, music, TV – what made you decide you wanted to go on a tour with a show like this?

TOYAH: I've never done anything like it and I like the idea of the challenge of it. It's comedy, it's almost stand-up comedy. And the thing about comedy is not just the timing of your lines – it's the timing of how you listen. Because we're setting up each others jokes pages before they happen. 

And that is an incredibly satisfying way of working and I like to learn with every job I do and I'm certainly learning on this. And it's so all inclusive of the audience that if the audience says something we've got to be ready to reply back. Two weeks in and do you know - I don't feel tired from it – it gives me energy every night, it's that kind of show.

STUART: Are you finding it being a tour and going to different places – do some jokes work better in some places than others?

TOYAH: Yeah. And the town you think are just going to go wild with the smutty stuff sit there rather embarrassed. I mean they get it in the end but it's almost like you're not allowed to laugh at certain things. 

And the posher towns you think "oh, that jokes going to be a bit tough in this town", oh boy, they go for it! But generally we're finding that the whole house rocks with laughter from beginning to end.

STUART: And of course you're coming down here to leafy Surrey in a few weeks time – I don't know, would we be one of the bawdy towns?

TOYAH: We'll find out! I mean I've got no idea! We have such a fantastic mix of women out there. A lot of daughters have been bringing their mums so I think we have to break the ice with the daughters laughing at certain jokes in front of their mums. 

And you know we're very honest about sex in this show, this is not a show for children – it's 16 upwards. I think, you know, sometimes mums have to give themselves permission to laugh in the front of their daughters.

STUART: Absolutely. These are big venues as well that you're getting to play at?

TOYAH: We're playing very mixed venues, recently we played a beautiful tiny venue in Leeds, a music hall and then the next day we're in a massive concert hall and it's sold out. So we're adapting all along the way. Because obviously intimacy is fabulous with a show like this but we have a lovely big set so the big halls work as well.

STUART: It's not the first tour of “Hormonal Housewives” - there was one last year wasn't there – is there things different than last year? 

TOYAH: This is a different show. It's completely different set, it's a different script because it's got two new actresses in it including me. “Hormonal Housewives” is a production that will tour and tour but they will always re-write it for people who are in it.

STUART: So that means if you have seen it before it doesn't make any difference – you get a whole new show but it's still the same ilk?

TOYAH: It's the same ilk but it's a new show.

STUART: Fantastic! Well, good luck with the tour – it sounds like you're having amazing time and lots of fun on the tour and we look forward to seeing you here in Guildford and Epson as well.

TOYAH: I can't wait! Thank you very much!


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