The Naked Truth: Dave Simpson, Regent Theatre Ipswich, October 22 and 23 This is a show out of the same British stable as the Full Monty and Calendar Girls.
The Naked Truth: Dave Simpson, Regent Theatre Ipswich, October 22 and 23
This is a show out of the same British stable as the Full Monty and Calendar Girls. A group of people comes together to achieve something. They either do it for a cause or to show that by working together they can restore some pride in themselves. The quirk in the story is the nature of what they are going to put on or, rather, take off.
In the Full Monty long-term unemployed men do a Chippendales style full strip. The Calendar Girls has the members of a South Yorkshire village Women's Institute posing nude to raise money for Leukemia Research. Here, in The Naked Truth, it's the women again. Six of them, from a pole dancing class in the village hall, are determined to put on a fund raising show when one of their number is found to be terminally ill with breast cancer. It's now a familiar format. Everything builds up - will they, won't they - to the final performance.
The characters Dave Simpson has assembled all have their very different problems. Rita (Sarah White) has a violent marriage to get away from, Tricia (Joanne Farrell) is a former fattie, now so slim and converted she's become obsessive, wrongly thinking that through the pursuit of slimness she'll be able to hang on to her husband. Lisa Riley plays Bev, extrovert, in-your-face large and loudmouthed. There's the gauche, lonely Faith (Alison Young), forever offering the others unwelcome cheese and marmalade sandwiches. The class leader, Gabby (an extraordinarily accomplished pole-dancing Paula Frances) is a single mum. And then there's Sarah, (Pauline Fleming) the breast cancer victim around whom they all rally.
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It's a broad-humoured comedy with tears intermingled. The language is raw and unfettered, and it's full of sexual fantasy girlie talk. When I was there, the mainly female audience seemed to be in paroxysms of laughter. I think I may have occasionally coloured up a bit, old prude that I am.
The most striking performance comes from Lisa Riley, a comic actor of some skill. She has the best funny lines and knows how to deliver them in a full-blooded performance. She has much more to offer the comedy theatre.
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The pole-dancing parts and the clumsy rehearsals work well in a big venue but the witty, fast-chat sections would work better in a more intimate setting than the Regent provides.