Review: The Calendar Girls, The Grand Theatre, Leeds

Due to its original successes the Calendar Girls comes back to Leeds Grand Theatre for a six day run at the Leeds Grand Theatre.

The story of the Calendar Girls is as popular and cherished as plum jam; a true and heartwarming tale of six members of the Women’s Institute, who after a member’s husband dies tragically of cancer, raise both eyebrows and  funds through creating a naked (or nude, as they prefer) calendar. Set in the heart of the Yorkshire dales, this performance is particularly special as it will be the final time the play is to be performed in Yorkshire. Before the curtains came up, the atmosphere within the theatre was electric and this did not subside right through to the standing ovation at the end.

With a star studded cast and a story so recognised and cherished, I knew I would inevitably enjoy this play and needless to say, I did. A dedicated Lynda Bellingham played the principal character of Chris with humour, heart and passion. For me, however, the most enjoyable performance came from June Watson (Jessie) whose character was strong and proud, with a satirical and self-depreciating humour which epitomised the attitude and dedication of these incredible women.

I would be lying if I said that all of the acting was the most polished and convincing I had ever seen (Deena Payne was particularly wooden) or that the props didn’t look a little tired (evidence of a long tour) however in this instance, it did not matter. This performance is carried not by excellent performances or set design, but through a heart-warming story which had been sensitively, cleverly and most importantly funnily scripted by Tim Firth.

The play is essentially an extension of the on-going fundraising efforts of the original calendar girls (who, consequently were in the audience and received more raucous applause and more people standing that the play itself). It is unavoidable to not be moved by this story and the execution of the scripting and delivery reminded us of the poignancy and deserving cause which inspired its conception.

I would absolutely recommend going to see this play, you will enjoy it and it will no doubt be moved by its story.

Review by Kirsty Hulse

Calendar Girls is on its final tour and Leeds Grand Theatre is its last Yorkshire stop.  It runs until this Saturday 31 March.  Tickets are priced from £12.50 to £29.50. Book by calling box office on 0844 848 2700 or online at leedsgrandtheatre.com

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