Presented by Jigsaw Stage Productions – April 2013
Comparison is inevitable when a stage play follows a successful film – and it’s nearly
However, Director Andy Osborn chose his cast well with six very different characters
attending regular meetings in the W.I. Hall in a Yorkshire village. (although none
of them had a Yorkshire accent). The opening is low key with one lady singing ‘And
did those feet in ancient times’ while the lady members attempt Tai Chi. This made
it difficult for the audience to accept the rather abrupt mood change into the ‘cheeky
banter’ between the ladies.
The story is, by now, familiar to everyone – a popular man dies of cancer and the
women decide to raise £500 to buy a sofa for the relative’s room in the local hospital.
To do this they agree to pose partially naked but for a few well placed props, buns/flowers
etc and make a Calendar to sell.
The first half ended with each of the six ladies, shielded by strategically held
props, removing their tops and then posing for the photographs – to applause from
family and friends in the audience. After all most of us wouldn’t remove our clothes
in front of an audience if they paid us £500 each! After the interval the ladies,
now internationally famous, realise that they have made much more money than they
dreamed of. They argue about how it should be distributed, but all ends happily,
as it started, with Tai Chi.
There were touching performances by Annie (Chris Jones) the wife, and of John (Nigel
Thornbory) the man who died. However I felt there was no chemistry between the husband,
Rod (Martin Dalton) and wife Chris (Gillie Morgan) although Chris delivered some
We all liked the music played between scenes – The Clog Dance from La Fille Mal Gardee
– a nod to Yorkshire clog dancing perhaps? The set was minimal, relying on the black
curtains to convey a village hall. I have seen W.I. rooms on stage before and they
always have a notice board, often a picture of the Queen and a cupboard for the badminton
kit to be stored! There was a piano on stage throughout simply so that the ladies
could pose behind it for the Christmas photo. Maybe one of the ladies could have
played ‘Chopsticks’ at least, to justify it being there.
The ladies obviously enjoyed appearing in this play and Andy Osborn should be congratulated
– they must have been difficult to ‘tame’ but he managed it!!