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Preview: Bare flesh for a good cause in 'Calendar Girls'

In this upcoming English-language play, six middle-aged women cause a stir doing what they always do, only now in the nude

Based on a true story, ‘Calendar Girls’, written by Tim Firth, starts with best friends and members of the Women’s Institute Chris and Annie, grieving after the death of Annie’s husband John. He suffered from leukaemia (a form of cancer), and the women decide it’s time to raise some money for a new sofa in the local hospital’s waiting room.

In their daring project, they co-opt four other members of the Women’s Institute, as well as an amateur photographer, Lawrence, who will capture them doing different daily activities, such as watering the plants, or playing the piano. Only this time, they are in their birthday suits – no clothes on.

It doesn’t take long until the whole of England knows about the calendar and the press is eager to know more about the brave women. Donations start pouring from all parts of the country, bringing them not only the amount of money they needed, but 100 thousand times more!

Not just nudity

Not only is the calendar an occasion for all these women to push their physical boundaries (and it does take a while until they all agree to participate), but also to test their characters.

Tensions rise between Chris, who is extroverted and impulsive, and Annie, who is more reflexive and down to earth. The two friends seem to work best in a team, but when Chris’s plans get more ambitious, unresolved issues come forth.

The making of the calendar changes the lives of the six women, and also the WI, a place where the most common topics used to be broccoli, carrots and how to make jam, and that now becomes a place of ideas and action.

Addressed to everyone

This reviewer reckons that the play is well worth seeing. The fact that the main characters are all women who already passed their ‘golden age’ of youth doesn’t mean that the play addresses only a more mature audience. On the contrary: its witty, humorous dialogues, and the quirkiness of the characters make it playful and fun to watch, while the situations depicted are inspiring for people of all ages.

It deals with self-consciousness, freeing oneself of it, taking initiative and going against the current. And it also deals with ambition, the fragility of human relations, and friendship. All these emotions are beautifully portrayed by the actors from the Copenhagen Theater Circle.

The play ‘Calendar Girls’ by Tim Firth is inspired by the film of the same name from 2003, starring Helen Mirren, and is based on a real story.

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