The smash hit tour of Calendar Girls has arrived at the Sunderland Empire for a sell-out run, and the original girls should be very proud of their achievements.
The story tells of the exploits of a group of WI members who decide to strip for a calendar in the hope of raising enough money to buy a sofa for the hospital, which cared for John Baker (husband of one of the Calendar Girls) in his final months. Angela, his wife and her close group of friends in the WI decide that the usual fare of photos of the village and rural life is not selling enough and what is needed is something that does sell. The answer to that is flesh!
I can’t decide why for me this production didn’t work, no matter how much I willed it, somehow the production just failed to take off. It could be down to direction, the cast, or the play not working in this venue. The story is human, heart-warming, and touching and as such, it had the potential to be both profoundly moving and funny, as already proven in the film. However, I was moved only once, when Gwen Taylor, in the role of Jessie, read a letter from a young cancer patient, and as she read her voice broke with emotion, a moment of true artistry, when less is more.
The tour of Calendar Girls regularly has changes in the cast and this penultimate cast just does not gel. A cast change should keep things fresh; here they do not seem to have settled in to their roles.
There were moments that made me laugh, but unfortunately not enough of them, and as I had to wait until almost twenty minutes before the end of Act 1 for the first giggle, I was disappointed.