Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review - Calendar Girls - People's Theatre

Calendar Girls  

The People's Theatre

16th July 2013

One of the things I love about the theatre is the way the same play performed by different companies can be the same, but entirely different. So seeing Calendar Girls twice in a month is not like watching the film again. With the film you get the same experience over and over. But to going to see the play brings you a new experience every time. For sure, the plot is still the same, the character's names and their personalities are the same, but no two productions are ever alike. The producers and directors always have their own interpretation, and the actors portray the characters in their own way. Because of a plan to set a World Record for the longest amateur run for a play, I have had the joy of one of my favourite plays being staged three times in the space of a year...and twice within the last month. And I have enjoyed every one of them.

Calendar Girls at The People's Theatre is a gloriously fun, almost tearfully(I am a hardy soul, others do succumb to the odd tear!) moving play about relationships, friendship, jealousy, ambition, one-upmanship, grief, determination and love. More than anything it is about love.

Directed by Eileen Davidson, it ticks all the boxes. From the petty squabbles and affectionate teasing between the women of the WI, the heartfelt loss of a husband and friend, the threat of a friendship broken by ambition and the joy of reconciliation, and celebration of enduring love, it has it all.

A few first night nerves may have been evident on Tuesday but as always the cast covered and carried on so that any small stutters or recalcitrant props were barely noticed in the audience.
The show stopping scene is, of course, the photo shoot for the nude (not naked) calendar. And it poses a challenge for production team and actresses. This was achieved with some split second timing, carefully arranged props (beware those props that refuse to follow the script!) and a deal of good humour and, if I mat say so, no small amount of enthusiasm by the ladies concerned! Anna Dobson, playing Ruth, made a very convincing drunken entrance! I love this scene for it's almost pantomime qualities - the audience is included in the action with pleading looks from Lawrence the photographer and clapping and cheering is encouraged.
For me, however, this time it was the later scenes where friction between the friends begins to build that were the best - they are acted with a more convincing honesty than the lighter hearted scenes. Karen Elliot as Annie comes into her own as she berates Chris and reminds us all that she would trade all of the hilarity and excitement of the calendar for one hour back with her John. This was my almost tearful moment.

Everyone gave a good performance but I think of all the characters my favourite this time was Cora, played with a such lovable sense of fun, by Jo Kelly.

The scenery is simple - your basic village hall, and John's hill cleverly revealed in all it's beauty! 

If you have never seen Calendar Girls on stage grab the opportunity, and if you have seen it, go back again and support the cancer charities, while having a great night out. It is performed with enthusiasm, affection and a great deal of skill. Well done to all on the team. It plays until the 20th July. 

Denise Sparrowhawk

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