Calendar Girls (tour - Watford, Colosseum)
Judging by a very full house for the opening performance, it is likely to prove successful. Jack Ryder’s production has broadened since I last saw it, played much more for comedy (which the audience appreciated) perhaps to the neglect of the real tragedy underpinning the fun. Lesley Joseph is loud-mouth Chris, veering from waspish to sincerity as she manipulates the calendar project for the best of all possible reasons. Sue Holderness is Annie, whose husband’s death through lymphoma proves to be the incentive for the calendar project.
Kathryn Rooney as fashion-plate Celia and Deena Payne as the piano-playing vicar’s daughter with attitude are among the other deft characterisations. Kacey Ainsworth is mousey Ruth; Helen Fraser plays non-nonsense Jessie. Robert Jones’ set with its background of the Yorkshire dales fronted by the hall used by the Women’s Institute and platform which raises to become the outdoor space where John (Bruce McGregor)’s favourite sunflowers will eventually grow works well.