Joyous, liberating, and fabulous fun
By Jessica Cornish
Calendar Girls, presented by Prince Moo Productions, is an empowering, uplifting tale that celebrates life and ageing, and finds humour and compassion in times of sadness and grief.
Known to most from the famous film, the transition of a well-loved story from screen to stage can sometimes be a bit hit-and-miss. However, Calendar Girls makes the transition flawlessly under the direction of Peter J. Snee, and with screen-writer Tim Firth having converted his own script for the play. Warm, witty and moving – the stage show stands so strongly upon its own worth that I didn’t even find myself mentally comparing moments of the play to the film.
The story is based on true events, when eleven Yorkshire women aged between 45-65 who dared to pose nude to create an alternative Women’s Institute (WI) charity calendar in an effort to raise money for cancer research after the death of one of the WI member’s husband’s, John Baker.
This entertaining production has a strong female cast who literally bare all in their portrayal of the gutsy and cheeky characters who challenged perceptions of women over the age of 45, and of the women’s institute, permanently. Leading ladies Jenny Seedsman and Abi Richardson played Chris the vivacious and pushy friend to the lovable and gentle soul Annie respectively, and the duo gave a wonderful performance in portraying the emotional rollercoaster ride of the characters’ friendship. Furthermore, they were well-supported by talented and impressive local actresses including Tottie Goldsmith, Lulu McClatchy, Kate Gorman and Francesca Waters forming the delightfully infamous Yorkshire WI gang.
The entire play is centred around the local village church hall, and while single-set decisions like this can sometimes make shows seem stagnant, the intimacy and familiarity fit well for this performance. The props and scenery by John Kerr were therefore minimal but appropriate, while the lighting design by Jason Bovaird adroitly indicated to the audience the changing of the days and provided valuable points of time and reference in the absence of scenery changes.
Unfortunately there were problematic audio issues the night I attended, but I have faith that these have been quickly ironed out as the season has progressed. My only other niggling point of the evening was the concluding scene featuring the sunflowers, which I found reminiscent of a high-school pantomime with a clunky set-change right at the end, and which I felt didn’t match the entertaining heights of the rest of the production.
That said, the story of Calendar Girls is metaphorically rich, emotive and inspiring, and this production is a wonderful and engaging stage adaptation that can be enjoyed by all ages.
27 September to 7th of October 2017
7:30pm start and an extra 2:30 matinee on Saturday
Tickets range from $69-$100
Bookings via ticketek.com.au or the Athenaeum Theatre Box Office