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.