Inspired by the story of Angela Baker, a member of the Women’s Institute, Calendar Girls is about a group of WI members from Yorkshire who try to raise money to buy a settee for a local cancer ward after the death of one of the member’s husbands.
The women decide to do something radical and pose nude for next year’s calendar, in the hope that it will raise more money than the traditional ones they’ve sold in the past.
The cast stars a plethora of successful ex-soap actresses and actors, who are all familiar faces, making you feel as if you’re watching old friends come together for a good cause.
All of the actors are on top form, but Rachel Lumberg (Ruth) is without doubt the highlight of the show. Her witty one-liners are delivered with perfect comic timing and bring the house down. Anne Charleston (Neighbours’ Madge Bishop) also delivers a star performance.
The final thirty minutes of act one demonstrates how good a comic writer Tim Firth is. The stripping off of the clothes is very tastefully done, and is perhaps one of the funniest scenes in any touring show at the minute. Parts of the show, however, feel weighty at times and at 2 hours 50 minutes, with an interval, it can feel overlong.
The set is very basic, with a backdrop of the Yorkshire countryside, which rises up to reveal the inside of the WI meeting place.
The production highlights a wonderful cause and it is nice to see the official calendar being sold in the venue, raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research. The calendar to date has raised over £2m.
- David Jack