Life

Review: Calendar Girls @ Manchester Opera House – March 20

By Mancunian Matters staff

Calendar Girls arrived in Manchester on Tuesday as part of it’s final UK tour.

Members of a Women’s Institute in Yorkshire are determined to create a new and unique way to raise money other than the usual bakesales and coffee mornings that they are known for. When they come up with the idea of a nude calendar in which they’ll all appear the outcome is hillarious and touching.

The characters are extrememly well cast and the chemistry on-stage was believable enough to sink straight into the story.

Camilla Dallerup, Jan Harvey, Sue Holderness, Deena Payne, Lisa Riley, June Watson and Ruth Madoc play off each other throughout and Lynda Bellingham leads as bossy Chris with ease.

The calendar itself may be a sort of rebellion towards the WI’s image but any notions of a jam and Jerusalem style Women’s Institute are not totally quashed- if anything it is exagerated for comic effect.

The use of on-stage props was very cleverly executed and carefully placed furniture, flowers and pastries hid the ladies’ dignity well.

The play itself was funny and enjoyable but the emotional deterioration of the women’s friendship through the rising success of the calendar left few dry eyes in the stalls.

Chris, Lynda Bellingham’s character, is set on making the calendar a national success yet Annie, played by Jan Harvey, wants to keep it more low-key and modest in memory of her husband John. The sensitivity between these two is incredibly touching and the audience waited for a much needed reconciliation at the plays conclusion.

Though it was a man and his illness which inspired the idea of the calendar there are very few men in the production- or the audience for that matter. It is definitely more of a girls night out that a date night experience.

The ultimate message of the play was suprisingly uplifting on the topic of cancer and told us that friendship can overcome anything.

Its witty script, amazing cast and touching storyline make Calendar Girls a must-see.

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