A triumphant piece of drama

“You’re going to need bigger buns” said Chris. Lundie Theatre Group – you’re going to need a bigger hall!

‘Calendar Girls’ was a sold-out triumph which took the audience through a gamut of emotions, laughter and tears but leaving everyone uplifted.

The quality (not to mention bravery) of the performances was poignant and believable.

‘Calendar Girls’, by Tim Firth, is based on a true story of seven women of Knapley WI, of love and loss, and their controversial fund-raising by stripping off for the annual WI calendar – a refreshing change from the usual scenic views of Yorkshire.

Each character was expertly portrayed by the actors, to show both the vulnerability and, more importantly, the strengths of these women in their journey through bereavement and defiance to achieve a truly amazing result – not just a new settee for the cancer ward but a new cancer wing.

The performance from John Bennett as John, the victim of leukaemia, whose death prompted the actions of the Knapley women, was played with gentle humour and captured the emotional rollercoaster journey of a dying man.

Elena Moir played his wife Annie and during their scenes together you got a sense of the depth of their relationship and subsequent grief she felt. The bond between Annie and Chris, played by Liz Rolland, demonstrated the importance of friendship , despite Chris’ desire to be the focus of attention and the friction this caused within the group.

Antonia Pettifer was sensational as Cora, in her first appearance for Lundie Theatre Group. She and the other Calendar Girls certainly did make an appearance , not to mention a lasting impression.

Roddy Sneddon also made his debut as Chris’ husband, albeit fully clothed. Brenda Stafford delivered an aristocratic Lady Cravenshire.

Laura Stewart (of bigger buns fame) was totally credible as the wealthy trophy wife with a fondness for the odd glass of something alcoholic, whereas Suzanne Elder’s portrayal of Ruth, the dowdy wife with a cheating husband, delivered some of the best comedic lines in the play.

Linnie Campbell, who played retired teacher Jessie, made great use of a pair of knitting needles and a ball of wool (not to mention a killer pair of shoes). Marie Dewar, who played Marie, the doyenne of Knapley WI, was the perfect foil for the rebellious calendar girls.

Robert Williamson gave a typically assured performance as the photographer, whil Sue Cargill, Stewart Campbell and Jean Stebbing’s performances enriched the story.

The props people did a fantastic job of maintaining the actors’ dignity with the innovative use of everyday items – turning the ordinary into extraordinary, and the stage setting transported the audience from a hall within a hall to the top of a sunflower-covered hill – no mean feat on a small stage.

No play would be complete without music to add atmosphere, noticeably when the calendar girls took to the stage to sing – it was beautiful.

The Lundie House Band – Liz Ireland, Alan Kyle and Jimmy Robertson – provided music for all emotions including rousing renditions of ‘Jerusalem’.

All of this was made possible through the clever direction from co-directors Jennifer Brown and Gillian Richards and debut by Kate Ballingall as producer.

This was a fabulous production from Lundie Theatre Group – if you have never seen them perform, you have missed out. Monty Rave