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More bladder-busting laughs from Women Fully Clothed quartet

Women Fully Clothed - Teresa Pavlinek, Kathryn Greenwood, Jayne Eastwood and Robin Duke - on stage.

Rita Colucci/Rita Colucci

3.5 out of 4 stars

Women Fully Clothed: Older & Hotter

Robin Duke, Jayne Eastwood, Kathryn Greenwood and Teresa Pavlinek

At the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto

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Don't let the Kardashian witches or Whoopi Goldberg convince you otherwise - women can be funny. The comedy quartet of Kathryn Greenwood, Jayne Eastwood, Robin Duke and Teresa Pavlinek did dame-based sketch humour at the scrumptious Royal Alex, where if there was a dry seat left in the house, it was a testament to the absorbent quality of Depend undergarments and not a reflection of the bladder-busting material.

"Shouldn't you be wearing breasts?" I was asked by one wise-guy when he found out I was reviewing the show. Well no, sir. Granted, the comedy was written and performed by women, and yes, it was geared toward those with working nipples. But a clever skit on cross-border-shopping security threats appealed to all ages and genders, and a cheap flatulence gag wafted over the head of no faction.

About the show's title: It's an update (with all new material) of the hit 2008 revue Women Fully Clothed. Older and hotter? Sure, Second City alumna Kathryn Greenwood is kinda hot, but the subtitle adjectives refer to aging and the hot flashes - as demonstrated by the hilarious and animated Robin Duke - that come with it.

The women on stage were, in fact, fully clothed - all in black, usually. No props or sets were employed. An opening sketch on professional women easily distracted by domestic matters went nowhere, but none of the bits that followed came close to failing.

A CSI parody riffed on the beauty and brains of the babes on that television franchise. "I tried to resuscitate her," cracked one of the investigators, "but my breasts were too small." The stymied foursome arrived at the conclusion that television was "no country for old women," and in a touch of meta humour, it was suggested that Canadian theatre was a more fitting venue.

A bridal boot camp bit showcased the crotchety appeal of Jayne Eastwood, a possible Elaine Stritch in waiting. Later, Greenwood, accompanied by pianist Bob Derkach, sang words men could not imagine but women have longed to declare: "I hate the cottage."

Another musical number, about how female depression was not an exceptional state of mind but the norm, was done in a graceful Eric Idle sort of way. And a line about being lower than whale droppings was one of the evening's laugh-out-loud moments.

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The revival of Duke's crusty character Molly Earl, whose art-and-craft world extended well beyond church basements and butter tarts, was a winner. The night's most hysterical sketch? That would be Greenwood's hemorrhoid hilarity - anus horribilis, indeed.

In general, the estro-generational humour hit closer to home with mature women. But the troupe's divine secrets of the ha-ha sisterhood worked for a wider audience. There were a couple of instances in which I laughed so hard I popped a bra strap. That it belonged to the lady seated in front of me made it all the funnier.

Women Fully Clothed: Older & Hotter runs until June 18; (416) 872-1212.

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