REVIEW: OPENING NIGHT PRODUCTIONS ‘CALENDAR GIRLS’, THE MALTINGS
HAVING seen Duns Players’ Calendar Girls nearly naked just a few weeks earlier I could be accused of having a penchant for seeing women of a certain age stripping off!
But like the brave souls over the border who went before them, Opening Night Productions’ leading ladies ensured that the ‘baring all bit’ was just a drop in what was an emotive and entertaining ocean.
The storyline of a group of courageous W.I women who produce a fundraising calendar after one of their number loses their husband to cancer, and the fantastic Tim Firth script lend themselves to great performances and the Opening Night cast used them as a springboard for two of the best hours of theatre The Maltings has witnessed all year.
As the woman who lost her beloved John (a touching performance from last minute stand in Barry Jones) to cancer, Cheryl Stewart was more than just believable: she had the ability to make the audience feel we were going through Annie’s trials and tribulations with her.
Jackie Kaines Lang gave the character of Chris a Yorkshire twang that any resident of Emmerdale would be proud of and a stage presence that would rival many an actress who has played her.
The success of this particular version of ‘Calendar Girls’ was in the contagious cameraderie the six main characters had on stage. Annie and Chris were the leaders of an elcectic pack.
Ros Lister played glamour puss Celia with effortless sophistication; Sue Handoll ensured retired teacher Jessie was a woman who wouldn’t let her age stand in her way; Angela McKeown’s Cora was cocky and charismatic and special mention to Wendy Payn, who as well as directing the show put in a cracking comedic performance as Ruth.
The ladies were supported by some well known local faces with Angela Winson adding a real Berwick touch to the part of uptight W.I. chair Marie; Tamsin Davidson transforming from the geeky Brenda Hulse to the refined Lady Cravenshire with ease; Ross Graham once again showing his versitility as photographer Lawrence and TV producer Liam; Katie Hindmarsh continuing to showcase her acting pedigree in the not so likeable role of Ruth’s husband’s bit on the side Elaine and Mark Pentecost impressing as Chris’ husband Ron, a bloke you’d be more than a happy to share a pint and bag of pork scratchings with down the pub.
The play was packed full of moments that provoked all kinds of emotions but at no point did it seem like the women were shamelessly playing for laughs or over egging the pudding to prompt a grab for tissues.
‘Calendar Girls’ was another string to a local theatrical bow that can boast an impressive target rate in 2012.