Bristol Hippodrome

Calendar Girls May 2012



The play takes you from the haunting face of Joe McGann as he goes from a healthy John edging towards his end to wondering if you really did glimpse 63-year-old Lynda Bellingham’s ample nipple as she did Tai-Chi exercises on a grassy mould surrounded by sunflowers.

In contrast to the fabulous film starring Helen Mirren and Julia Walters the play is made even more dramatic by most of the action taking place in the musty old village hall with the set using a raised middle section to portray the rolling hills in the background.

You have until Saturday, May 12, to catch this quirky, poignant and hilarious interpretation.

Carol Deacon

We all tittered and then laughed out loud at the line ‘we need considerably bigger buns’ even though we must have heard it a thousand times before.

Calendar Girls is back at the Bristol Hippodrome this week and if you missed the production on its previous visits please be sure to make a date this time round.

It is good - really, really good.

It makes you laugh out loud and cry - even if you don’t want to.

To date the original ‘Calendar Girls’ from Rylstone Women’s Institute have made more than £3 million for charity.

Swapping scenic views of the Yorkshire dales these ordinary women decided to do something extraordinary by posing for a ‘nude’ calendar back in the late 1990s.

They were inspired after the untimely death of John Baker, husband of Angela, a WI stalwart known then for her cake-baking but nothing much else.

The story of John’s demise from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the women’s gallant efforts to replace ageing waiting room furniture at the local hospital isn’t a traditional WI tale of prize-winning plum jam and Jerusalem but an account of friendship and fundraising which for some became a liberating experience.

With precision, comedic timing the talented professional cast romp across the set as the story unfolds centre stage in more ways than one.

It is very empowering to see real women showing there beautiful bodies complete with blemishes, bingo wings and flabby bits, this a world away from the air-brushed stick insects that glossy magazines would have you believe is the norm.

The ensemble cast of Lynda Bellingham, Camilla Dallerup, Jan Harvey, Sue Holderness, Deena Payne, Lisa Riley, June Watson and Ruth Madoc and support by Joe McGann, John Labanowski and Kevin Sacre are quite simply brilliant.