Occasionally a play touches the national conscience. Calendar Girls is such a play and CCADS’ production at the Kings Theatre this week demonstrates why.

Reginald D Hunter

Reginald D Hunter: ‘All you have to give is an honest opinion about anything and someone, somewhere will be offended’

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Calendar Girls at the Kings Theatre, Southsea

It is chock-full of characters you’ll recognise.

Tim Firth’s beautiful script involves you, takes you where the characters on stage are going, drags you down and – ultimately – lifts you high. The Spirit of Humanity is alive and well.

John-Paul McCrohon’s production suffers slightly from a lack of intimacy – the magnificent stage at the Kings tending to swamp the smaller moments – but he has a mighty principal cast, chief among whom are the beautiful Sheila Birt and the versatile Marie Ridley.

As the main protagonists, these two carry the emotional punch of the piece – with Ridley impressing particularly in the latter moments of the play.

Able support from Peter Colley, whose portrayal of a dying man is painfully difficult to watch – and that’s a compliment – and Wendy Fortune, who gives the best work I’ve seen from her.

Kerry McCrohon, Brenda Kent and Zoe Fisher complete the WI ensemble and all play powerfully.

A noisy scene-change at a pivotal moment disturbed – but the performance rises triumphant.

Heart-warming.

Until Saturday.

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