Little Theatre Company

Live theatre in the heart of Burton upon Trent

Calendar Girls

by Tim Firth

Performed: March 2013

Calendar Girls by Tim Firth

Review by Dave Stacey

Laughter rang out continuously from the large audience at the opening night of Calendar Girls at Burton’s Brewhouse arts centre. The play is based on the real life enterprise of a Yorkshire Women’s Institute which raised money for charity. Written by Tim Firth, its witty script swept away old fashioned notions that the WI is only about jam making and dull talks.

Members of a real WI posed for saucy calendar photographs to buy a sofa for a hospital, in memory of the husband of one of their group.It raised a huge sum, and inspired a film comedy starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters – and this, in places even funnier, play.

The production by Burton’s Little Theatre Company features a first-rate performance by Heather Ratcliffe as the impish prime mover in the calendar project, with other strong roles played by Vanessa Birch, Vicky Fryer, Bethan Waite, Hannah Mason and Elaine Pritchard. The scene in which the male photographer immortalises the shy female participants is tremendously funny, but this show also has moments of pathos, frustration, anger and much else.

There are only four men in the cast, including Matt Bancroft, who gives a moving portrayal of the invalid whose death precipitates the daring plan of the WI ladies.

John Bowness directs. The company annually dedicates one of its productions to the memory of an outstanding member of its earlier years, Barbara Hicken, and Calendar Girls is this year’s tribute.




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