When Annie’s husband John dies of leukemia, she and her best friend Chris resolve to raise money for a new settee in the local hospital waiting room. They manage to persuade four fellow Women’s Institute members, Cora, Celia, Ruth and Jessie, to pose nude with them for an ‘alternative” calendar. The news of the women’s charitable venture spreads like wildfire, and hordes of press soon descend on the small village of Knapeley in the Yorkshire Dales. The calendar is a success, but Chris and Annie’s friendship is put to the test under the strain of their new found fame.
(all role age ranges are must appear)
Age Range: 50 – 60
Description: You want Chris at your party. She will talk to people she doesn’t know, and find things to say to all silences and generate laughter. Part of this is because Chris is at home in crowds, holding court, being the center of attention. Without Chris in her life, Annie would be better behaved her life less fun. The two of them are like naughty schoolgirls.
Age Range: 50 - 60
Description: Annie will join in mischief but is at heart more conformist and less confrontational than Chris. After Chris has put a waiter’s back up in the restaurant, Annie will go in and pour calm. The mischievousness Chris elicits saves Annie from being a saint. She has enough edge to be interesting, and enough salt not to be too sweet.
Age Range: 40ish
Description: Cora’s past is the most eclectic, her horizons broadened by having gone to college. This caused a tectonic shift with her more parochial parents. She came back to them pregnant and tail-between-legs, but Cora has too much native resilience to be downtrodden. She is the joker in the pack, but never plays the fool. Her wit is deadpan. It raises laughter in others, but rarely in herself. Her relationship with her daughter is more akin to that between Chris and Annie. Cora doesn’t need to sing like a diva but must be able to sing well enough to start the show with Jerusalem and sing the snatches of other songs required.
Age Range: 60 – 70s
Description: Get on the right side of Jessie as a teacher and she’ll be the teacher you remember for life. Get on the wrong side and you will regret every waking hour. A lover of life, Jessie doesn’t bother with cosmetics — her elixir of life is bravery. Jessie goes on rollercoasters. Her husband has been with her a long time and is rarely surprised by her actions. Jessie bothers about grammar and will correct stallholders regarding their abuse of the apostrophe “s”.
Age Range: 35 - 50
Description: The fact that Celia is in the WI is the greatest justification of its existence. A woman more at home in a department store than a church hall, she may be slightly younger than Chris or the same age, but she always feels like she’s drifted in from another world. Which she has. She is particularly enamored of Jessie, and despite the fact Jessie has very little time for most Celias of this world, there is a rebelliousness in Celia to which Jessie responds. It’s what sets Celia apart from the vapid materialism of her peer group and made her defect. .
Age Range: 40 - 60
Description: Ruth’s journey is from the false self-confidence of the emotionally abused to the genuine self-confidence of the woman happy in her own skin. Ruth is eager to please but not a rag doll, and despite being Marie’s right-hand woman she is desperate to be the cartilage in the spine of the WI and keep everyone happy. She has spine herself — if she was too wet, no-one would want her around. But they do, and they feel protective of her because they sense there is something better in Ruth than her life is letting out. They are proved right. Ideal car — at the start, whatever Eddie wants; at the end, whatever she wants. Ideal holiday — at the start wherever Eddie is, at the end wherever he isn’t. The Rabbit Costume: Ruth made this last night. It should be a cocktail of good intention and not enough time.