insideKENT Magazine Issue 61 - April 2017 - Page 32

LONDON L-R: Claire Machin, Sophie-Louise Dann, Joanna Riding, Claire Moore and Debbie Chazen in THE GIRLS. James Gaddas as John and Joanna Riding as Annie in THE GIRLS. L-R: Chloe May Jackson as Jenny, Ben Hunter as Danny and Josh Benson as Tommo in THE GIRLS. London Theatre Review: THE GIRLS by Sarah Green THERE IS NOTHING BAD THAT CAN BE SAID ABOUT THE 2003 FILM CALENDAR GIRLS. NOTHING AT ALL. I WON’T HAVE IT. IT’S ONE OF THOSE FILMS THAT JUST SEEMS LIKE PERFECTION. HELEN MIRREN, CELIA IMRIE AND JULIE WALTERS, FOR A START. THE WOMEN’S INSTITUTE. CHARITY. NUDITY. CAKE (AND BUNS). WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE? Photos by Matt Crockett, Dewynters So Gary Barlow was, I feel, rather brave to take this little slice of perfection and turn it into something that could very well fall flat. A musical version Calendar Girls. Could it work? Do you want the good news or the bad news? The good news is that it does work, and it works brilliantly. The Girls is a riot of comedy and pathos, a beautiful piece of work that has all the best elements of the film added to Barlow’s stunning score. The bad news? It might even be – just a bit, just edging forward slightly – better than the film. It’s a close call anyway. This could well be because Tim Firth who adapted the true story for the silver screen, and then turned it into a play, is also behind this new version of the heart-warming, lifeaffirming tale of a group of resilient and determined Rylstone and District Women’s Institute members from Yorkshire who decide to create a nude calendar (tastefully done, of course!) to raise funds for cancer after the husband of one of their number passed away from the disease. The Girls is an emotional show. Tissues will be required, and those attending will be subject to every feeling that can be thrown at them. But surely that’s part of the fun – we love these women, love what they are doing, love that this is a true story, and with love comes heartbreak and deliciously intimate moments that are really the definition of life. You’ll feel giddy with joy one minute, sob your heart out the next, and then round it all off with a real laugh-out-loud hilarity that is difficult to define. You will want friends like these ladies, and you might even discover that you already have them. It’s that good. And we can’t forget the music. Barlow is a talented man and his score is a soaring success. The whole thing starts with the rousing – and hugely catchy – “Yorkshire”, an ode to the beauty of God’s own county (and its little foibles too – plus Kent gets a tiny mention), and the energy levels never dip. Perhaps the most memorable of all the excellent songs is “Dare”. It’s a song that I might use as my theme tune from now on. I’ve certainly been singing it enough. There is a lot more to The Girls than a group of women of a certain age undressing to have their photos taken in order to buy a sofa for relatives to be more comfortable on in a hospital. A lot more. Look a little deeper and you’ll find lessons about self-confidence, about friendship, about teamwork and love and vanquishing inner demons. Everyone can take something away from The Girls, and that’s just one element of its endearing and, hopefully, enduring charm. 32