Review – Calendar Girls, Derngate, Northampton, 17th November 2010

Calendar GirlsWell I must confess that I am behind with writing a few blog posts, for two reasons.

Firstly – I’ve not been well. No it’s true, and man that I am, it’s kind of taken its toll on me. Sniffles developed into a nasty cough, which became a chest infection, and I’m still on antibiotics. It’s been hard sleeping because of night-time coughing. But I am getting better honest. I’m not properly better yet, mind. But getting there.

The second reason is that we saw Calendar Girls on 17th November and frankly it didn’t inspire me to write anything.

We saw the original production in Chichester four or so years ago and absolutely loved it. I was convinced at the time that it made a much better play than film, and that it triumphantly called the shots dealing with emotion and humour. A star studded cast carried it off magnificently. We had Patricia Hodge, Lynda Bellingham, Sian Phillips, all fresh with the piece and giving it all it deserved.

Calendar Girls cast Four years on and I felt it was a very different offering. Most noticeable was how incredibly slow the whole thing is to start – frankly the first half hour or so is pretty boring. The scene where they have the photoshoot is still hilarious. And I did like the portrayal of John’s declining health. It was sensitively and elegantly done. But really – the majority of the rest of it was uninspiring. I fear Lynda Bellingham may be just too stale with the play now – we thought she was rather shouty. June Watson as the older lady Jessie had a confidence with the material that was rather winning. But on the whole it all lacked spark. Even the final scene where they walk through the field of sunflowers struck me a heavily laden rather than the charmingly moving scene I remember in Chichester. I should say that there were a few understudies performing the night we saw it, so maybe they were under-rehearsed or somehow the balances were upset, but to be honest I don’t think that would be the reason for my feeling of underwhelmingness.

It packs houses though – the week in Northampton was more or less a sellout. But I didn’t feel it got a sellout response from the audience. Politely appreciative maybe.

I don’t think I shall want to see it again.

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