My Brilliant Divorce, Opera House, Manchester

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The Independent Culture

Divorce hurts – no doubt about that – but Geraldine Aron's one-woman comedy, My Brilliant Divorce produces gales of laughter. It also provides a great vehicle for Dillie Keane as the abandoned middle-aged female "in agitated state". When the play enjoyed success in the West End, including an Olivier nomination, Dawn French played Mrs Angela Kennedy Lipsky, ditched by her husband for not just one but a string of younger, more exotic women. Now Keane, the founder of Fascinating Aida and regular on Grumpy Old Women, takes on the role of the bruised but ebullient reluctant divorcee in a new production touring to 50 theatres and arts centres across the UK.

On the opening night of the tour Keane was remarkably secure in almost all aspects of the character, sustaining the rhythm and feeling the cadences of the extended monologue. She has a comic timing that brings Aron's lines to entertaining life. There's no escaping the fact that many of the gags about the sexes are clichéd and that the script, as well as being thin for its 90-minute duration, relies on familiar plot turns.

There's little new in Angela's sense of shock and humiliation, depression, jealousy, fantasies of reconciliation, thoughts of revenge and disastrous dates. But in her encounters with the plot's supporting characters (including Axl the Scotty dog), Keane exploits the play's comedic potential.

The use of occasional voice-over adds another dimension, particularly as Angela explores her mixed-up observations about her self-worth and value in her newfound single state. Politically correct it may not be but that is life.

Tim Luscombe's unobtrusive production encourages Keane to make maximum use of silence, gesture and a wealth of facial expressions. Michael Holt's set, with the exterior of the London marital home on a backdrop and the simplest of props, is enhanced by Hansjorg Schmidt's lighting. His fireworks effects mark the passing of each year since the date when Angela's husband went off with a bang of the front door on 5 November.

My Brilliant Divorce may be caught in a time-warp in which women of a certain age feel incomplete without a man but that doesn't make it any less frothily amusing.

Touring until 22 November. (0844 847 2277)

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