Calendar Girls

Date 19th October 2012
Society Prestwich Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society PADOS
Venue The MET, Bury
Type of Production Drama (Modern)
Director John Flay


Author: Kevin Proctor

How a simple idea can bloom into a cultural phenomenon is certainly something to ponder. The notion of a group of ordinary ladies producing a nude calendar and using themselves as models became headline news around the world. This then spawned a hugely successful film, later followed by a stage version both of which attracted the starriest of casts. Now the play has been released to amateurs for a limited period, the question hangs – can the material stand when stripped (so to speak) of the initial novelty of the idea and without a cast that includes the cream of Soap-Land and the Oxo Mum?

The script presents each of the characters with a moment to shine and each one delights. The definite highlight of this piece is the photo shoot itself and this is staged brilliantly, each of the ladies earning a well-deserved applause after each ‘reveal’, this scene captured the spirit of the play wonderfully. Unfortunately this occurs at the end of act one and so act two droops a little as characters rail against each other before everyone’s story is tied up with a neat little bow.

Director John Flay created some really nice, complimentary touches to the piece. Understated moments such as a glance or simple stage direction (not scripted) were added to enhance scenes to create simple accents working to great effect.  

I particularly enjoyed Jane Murphy’s performance as Ruth, She delivered an excellent interpretation of this under confident woman who always (eventually) gets round to biting the bullet, her scenes were clearly enjoyed by all and she was the most believable of all the women, simply a beautiful actress.

Andrew Close as John, a small but crucial part, some may say this is his story as it’s seen through his eyes was expertly played executing all the right tones in all the right places.

Elizabeth Flay as Annie had warmth and likability but at times I felt her performance was a tad forced for such an intimate venue. Delivering emotions in a more gentle and subtle way - almost underplaying it - will draw an audience in to the characters journey.

The set was clever as it folded in and out of the WI Hall and onto the Hill, not an easy transition to make several times. The biggest problem this caused was the placing of the sunflowers in the final scene (the iconic symbol of this story) which, sadly, could only be seen by a fraction of the audience.

Sharon Shaw as the ambitious Chris demonstrated a confident performance but I feel the stronger characters developed by the others over took her.

Top class cameos from Barbara (as Brenda & Lady Cravenshire) & Simon Higgs (as Lawrence & Liam).  Sandra O’Nions as Jesse, Jayne Leggat as Celia and Sarah Day as Cora equally displayed lovely touches and created some shining moments.

There was laughter and tears throughout the audience which is surely testament to a solid production.

Congratulations PADOS and thank you for a very enjoyable evening.