THERE has been a spate of nudity rippling across Warwickshire this year and, at the end of last week, the epidemic hit Stratford.
It is the tenth anniversary of the 2003 comedy film Calendar Girls, which was then made into a smash hit stage play (2008). Now that rights have been released for amateur companies to perform it, performances have been popping up all over the country, with Stratford’s Second Thoughts Drama Group becoming part of this national ‘institution’.
Most people are aware of the true story of a group of Yorkshire WI women who produced a nude calendar to raise money for Leukaemia Research, whether they have seen the film or play or not.
But what has become an exceptional phenomenon is that those performing it in amateur groups across the country are too finding ways of raising money for cancer charities.
Second Thoughts had not only produced its own 2014 calendar, but also held a raffle and guess the weight of the cake competition in line with WI tradition when it performed last week.
The company also did the play proud. Granted the story lends itself for a stage production but director Paul Holtom deserves equal credit for making this a funny, well-produced and well-acted version of the show.
Making good use of the civic hall space, with a simple yet effective set, it oozed warmth, despite the underlying story.
It was truly an ensemble piece, with those on stage effortlessly becoming their individual colouful characters without overdoing it.
Humour and pathos abounds and writer Tim Firth takes every opportunity to throw in jokes about the Women’s Institute. Of course there was the inevitable flash of flesh but the director ensured none of his actors were too compromised.
It would be churlish to single out individual performances, so a big pat on the back to all of the cast: Claire Bradwell (Cora), Annette Stocken (Chris), Kate Guest (Annie), Val Harris (Celia), Kate Sutcliffe (Ruth), Annie Giles (Jessie), Justin Obsborne (John), Steph Jepson (Brenda/Lady Cravenshire), Graham Taylor (Rod), Clive Webb (Lawrence/Liam), Alex Kapila (Elaine) and Gill Hines (Mairi).
This offering from Second Thoughts was amateur theatre at its best.
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