Wendy Noel and Anna Galvin in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Calendar Girls. Photo by David Cooper.

It is difficult to know whether this play, based on a true story, is appropriately categorized as a comedy. It is, in fact, a play that masterfully moves along several moods, without losing scope of its core proposition. But regardless of any categorization, it is a complex play that is a step away from the ordinary.

The storyline of Calendar Girls unfolds around a group of middle aged women in Yorkshire, England, all of which are members of a certain chapter of the Women’s Institute. Among the activities that they develop on behalf of the Institute, fundraising takes a prominent spot – for which the women are working in creating a calendar featuring churches of the neighbouring shires and counties.

But the plans take an unexpected twist when one of the women, Annie (Wendy Noel), loses her husband to leukemia. In an effort to raise funds for cancer research, another woman from the group, Chris (Anna Galvin) suggests an unorthodox idea to potentially maximize the funds to be raised – an idea that will raise brows  and red flags among the top leaders of the Women’s Institute, the public in general, and the participants themselves: They will become calendar girls.

This play is an extraordinary comedy that beautifully incorporates elements of sadness, melancholy, and wittiness. Written by Tim Firth and directed by Rachel Ditor, the execution of this show is truly captivating and entertaining –  despite of running for over 2 hours, the play never falls in tame or boring spots. On the contrary, it continually builds up momentum from the very beginning, to reach a climax very close towards the end. The lighting effects, music, illumination, and various props, are very effectively used – and altered minimally through the show, which helps to maintain a virtually non-stop execution.

The cast is completed by Colleen Winton, David Marr, Shirley Broderick, Aslam Hussain, Shawn McDonald, Jane Noble, Lisa Norton, Linda Quibell and Kerry Sandomirsky. Calendar Girls will run until February 26, 2012, at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, located at 2750 Granville Street.