Calendar Girls

Date 12th April 2013
Society The East Cheshire Musical Theatre Company
Venue Peter Barkworth Theatre (Stockport College)
Type of Production Drama
Director Matthew Darsley

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

Calendar Girls is a well-known film which had a cast overflowing with big names and since its success, a stage adaptation was made which has also attracted and hosted many recognisable stars of soap land, TV dramas and theatre regulars to play the residents of Knapley - eager to bare all!

Director, Matthew Darsley had used every available opportunity to squeeze out as much comedy as the script would allow with the troupe of W.I. members verging on caricature. It was evident that the balance was leaning towards highlighting the humour in the play.

Ruth, played by Lorna Sales was a standout performance, she had fine-tuned her character and added her own input to make an interesting portrayal. I was slightly disappointed that her confrontation scene with the Beauty Therapist had been censored which softened the impact of the moment, but still, an all-round enjoyable performance from Lorna.

Julie Proffitt as Chris was undoubtedly the shows front runner - she effortlessly delivered the most naturalistic performance with all the right qualities required for the character.

I fully agreed with the grounded and down-to-earth interpretation of Cathryn Yate’s Cora, it worked - she exposed the comedy elements well and without ‘trying’ to make us laugh.

The biggest curse of this play, for me, is the challenge of Annie’s journey to come across strong enough. I don’t doubt Joyce’s strength as an actress as it was evident she is of vast ability, however, with the excessive and lofty characterisations of the other ladies, Annie’s story (which is the true heart of this play) is in danger of being pushed to a back seat. At times, Annie did get drowned out, however, when Joyce was playing the more intimate scenes with Julie and with John Hilliard as John, that’s when we saw Joyce’s Annie ascend!

The highlight of Christine Perry’s performance as Marie was the Badminton scene, I’ve found it quite common for this scene to be the weakest in the play but thanks to both Lorna and Christine’s verve, it was spot on! I did find that Christine was trying her hardest to add panache to her role and make it more comical which, with parts like these, only ever conveys a character how it’s not intended.

Throughout this play, each of the ‘Girls’ has their moment to shine in the spotlight, but interestingly (and this is by no means a negativity), Krysy Hood as Celia came across more advanced when working with the other women in the group scenes than she did when taking centre stage to deliver her ‘story’, I find that so appealing as it’s so common for this to be the opposite. Also worthy of note for Krysy is her revealing of the ‘buns’ in the photo shoot scene which is the best I've seen it done – another one of this shows highlights!

We were treated to some sturdy supporting performances too, with Jonathan Hall as Liam, Elaine Fox as Brenda Hulse, John Hilliard as John, Vicki Harrison as Elaine and Peter Thorburn as Rod.

This production moved efficiently, had poignant moments and didn’t fail to keep its audience engrossed, it’s technically quite a fussy one but none-the-less was presented well and was appropriately lit.

Hats (and everything else) off for tackling this eminently admired piece which is all the rage amongst amateur groups across the country!