Friday, June 28, 2013

Review - Calendar Girls - Royalty Theatre Sunderland

Calendar Girls
June 26th 2013

Nine months ago I had my first experience of the Royalty Theatre in Sunderland, and I have been thinking for awhile now that it was time I had a return visit. Unfortunately circumstances and work commitments have kept me away, until this week when a free evening and Calendar Girls beckoned me back.  I love the Hollywood film and was equally entranced by the stage show, which I also experienced for the first time nine months ago. It seemed an almost karmic opportunity had presented itself to me, nine months since my first visit to the Royalty and nine months since my first viewing of Calendar Girls. Perhaps a star had been born? And so my sister was recruited, and tickets were bought. 

I do love this play, so there was a certain amount of trepidation. I have very recently suffered the disappointment of seeing a show for the second time and finding it a less enchanting experience. Would Calendar Girls live up to my expectations? Or would it be tainted with the disappointment of a cast that didn't fit my mental image of the characters, or imperfectly delivered lines?

I need not have worried. It wasn't perfect, occasionally the timing was a little off, and the sound not quite right, but overall it was an enjoyable production. The scenes in Napely village hall unfolded, revealing the fondly remembered characters, the friendly rivalries, and the dry Yorkshire humour.
In terms of individual performances, Louisa Robinson played a fabulously timid, conciliatory Ruth who fully deserved the cheer from the audience as she sent her husband’s condescending “other woman” packing! Muriel Waine, as Annie, coping with the loss of her husband and the strain on a lifelong friendship, gave a sensitive and convincing performance.

Of course, the story would not be complete without the photography scene and I particularly liked Dominic McDonagh as the self conscious young photographer Lawrence. I do feel the men are the weaker characters in this play - they are incidental almost to the women, despite having quite pivotal roles to play in the story. Dominic managed to present Lawrence as an equal to the women in this scene, not just as a incidental supporting male. He included the audience in his dilemma as Lawrence fumbled through the initial set ups and then finally came into his own as he photographed each scenario, his photographer's eye taking over from the shy embarrassed young man. The whole scene was done with great humour and sensitivity. Full marks to the cast and the production team for meeting this challenge head on!

Calendar Girls plays until the 29th June. There are still seats available. Tickets can be bought online and you will be supporting your local theatre and a very worthy charity - buy a raffle ticket or drop a donation in the bucket at the interval!

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