This is the stage adaptation, by Tim Firth, of the very popular movie of the same title, starring Helen Mirren.
Many will know the story, based on real life events, when a group of women working in a small Women’s Institute group in Yorkshire, London, took their kit off to put together a calendar to raise funds for cancer research after one of the women in the group, Annie, lost her husband John to cancer.
The Calendar was released and went ‘viral’. The women found their sudden fame hard to deal with, and friendships within the group become strained. All however does end up happy enough.
Firth’s adaptation is clever, racy, funny and at times touching, and Pymble Players have given it another life with a fresh, winning production in their intimate theatre, a converted church space.
Julia Griffith’s direction is sharp and featured elegant staging. Her cast maintained their accents well. Ian Ackland’s compact set of a village church hall where the Women’s Institute meets. Other locations are well established by full length images projected on the back wall.
Melissa Abrahams soundscape, primarily featuring excerpts of popular songs worked well, as did Jan McLachlan’s period costumes.
Griffith’s enthusiastic cast were all good. Louise Deibe as Chris and Fran Etheridge as Annie were very effective in the main roles. Favourite performances in the supporting cast were by Bronwyn Courts as the glamorous, good natured Celia, Maria Karambelas as the vivacious, feisty retired teacher.Jessie, and Racquel Boyd, who after initially being reluctant, does pitch in with her friends.
Margaret Olive plays the social climbing Marie, Helen Hunter-Lee plays both local dignitary Lady Cavendish and a deceitful beauty consultant, Elaine, Royden Broad has a brief part playing Annie’s dying husband John before he shuffles off his mortal coil, Wills Burke is the shy photographer Lawrence who receives his best assignment ever, and Murray Fane plays two roles, those of Rod and Liam.
Make a date soon to meet up with these feisty, vivacious Calendar Girls. They are a lot of fun, and keep the audience well entertained. The show is playing at Pymble Players, on the corner of Bromley Avenue and Mona Vale Road, until 28th October. Please check the website for performance times.