Review: Calendar Girls Bristol Hippodrome
Tuesday 09 July 2019
What a delightful piece of theatre Calendar Girls at The Bristol Hippodrome is. Few could have missed the origins of the true story show which captured the imagination of the public at the time. It tells the story of a WI in Yorkshire, who created a nude calendar of themselves to raise money for charity after the husband of one of their members died from cancer.
It’s a legacy that lives on, having been turned into a stage play, a movie and the current musical. The stage show continues to raise money for Bloodwise, a UK based charity which funds research into all blood cancers and offers information and support to blood cancer patients.
This cleverly created show works perfectly from the off, set on a beautiful Yorkshire inspired set by Robert Jones with seasonal lighting by Oliver Fenwick. The beauty of the set means that the drama is not lost on the huge stage of the Bristol Hippodrome. It’s all sharply focused and an unusual piece of intimate storytelling which doesn’t often work in the 2000 seater auditorium.
From the off, a fabulous cast, which my companion described as ‘bloody brilliant’, brought Tim Firth’s witty and bitter-sweet words alive against Gary Barlow’s pleasing music. The balance between humour and sadness was perfect and cleverly done, with the medical passage of time moving between three uncomfortable chairs in a waiting room.
I worried the show was going to be an exhausting sentimental experience, but it wasn’t. It was sensitively handled and with moments of great humour from the characters within the Yorkshire community.
It’s one of those shows that just works and does full justice to the background from which it drew inspiration.
It’s really an ensemble cast, each giving great performances. I particularly enjoyed the warmth and humour between single parent Sue Devaney’s Cora and Tyler Dobbs’ Tommo. Who Wants A Silent Night was a highlight, as was the farcical comedy that descended by the end of Act One.
Unfortunately at times, real life can be as dramatic as theatre. After a thoroughly entertaining first half, the second part of the show did not take place after the interval, with the rest of the show cancelled after being held.
A press announcement from the Bristol Hippodrome said that they are ‘deeply sorry’ for any inconvenience caused by the cancellation.
The press statement said: ‘The Bristol Hippodrome has taken the difficult decision to cancel tonight’s performance of Calendar Girls The Musical after an audience member was taken ill during the interval. We wish the gentleman a speedy recovery.’
The Hippodrome confirmed that everyone attending the show would be able to rebook for another date, with the box office beginning the task of contacting those affected directly.
Calendar Girls is at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 20 July 2019. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s a beautifully crafted piece of storytelling performed by a wonderful cast that just ‘gets it’.
For more information about booking tickets, visit: atgtickets.com/Bristol