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Calendar Girls: Review

THERE were breasts and bottoms, and buns and bouquets.But the Theatrecraft production of Calendar Girls is much more than a titillating tale.

calendar girls thumb

​It's a celebration of friendship, of love, of women and what they can achieve.It's a story of human tragedy and triumph, about class and confidence.
And it's a brilliant night out.I laughed, I cried, and I loved every minute of it.There were glitches, from forgotten lines to scenery malfunctions but, just like the real calendar girls, the cast refused to let it get in the way of their stunning show.

Jane Danes was formidable as Chris, the calendar's champion who tastes stardom and is tempted to capitalise on it. A drama teacher, her performance should be a must-see for all her students, and provided a masterclass in characterisation.

Kimberley Maton went from being the fairy in Theatrecraft's pantomime to trophy wife Celia in this, and she embraced the role. And the buns...

Jenny Koukoulis is well-known as a friendly face, either at the former Visitor Information Centre or Whitstable Improvement Trust, but she was almost unrecognisable as snooty Marie, the WI chief who is desperate to climb the social ladder.

Sue Bailey is no stranger to baring all on stage, according to her bio, and I could have cheered when she shrugged off her downtrodden image in the second act for the showdown with her husband's lover. She was played by irrepressible hairdresser Claire Barton, who also had a hand in some of the cast’s hairstyles and had one of the best Yorkshire accents of all the cast.

The supporting actors did exactly what they should; allowing the principals to shine and helping the action along, and I loved Christine Liggins as Lady Cravenshire.

But the brightest star was Andrea Oliver, who has previously managed to hide her light in the chorus or in smaller parts.
As widow Annie, whose husband John (played so poignantly by Nik Waller) inspires the fundraising calendar, she really touched my heart.

The tenderness between them was so real that it was impossible not to be moved as she faced the reality of his illness, and struggled with her grief and the suffering of others in the same situation.
It was the perfect reminder that the play was based on a true story, and that thousands of families lose loved ones every year to all types of cancer.

There were collections for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research after the show and I bet most pockets were emptied of coins and notes before the audience left Whitstable’s Playhouse Theatre.

Liz Crudgington - Whitstable Times Review 17th April 2013