An unlikely group of north-country women band together to do something slightly risqué for a cancer charity after one of them discovers that she is terminally ill.
Does this sound vaguely familiar? Welcome to Calendar Girls 2, an exercise in theatre-by-numbers by Dave Simpson, author of another hit show in a related vein, Girls Night Out.
In The Naked Truth a very odd assortment of women played by various former soap actresses meets at a village hall pole dancing class. Apparently, in addition to being a sexist spectacle, pole dancing is now marketed as a keep-fit activity.
Even so, it’s a bit hard to imagine some of these people signing up with Abi Titmuss’s breezy but nice former professional instructor. There’s Bev (Lisa Riley), an extrovert with an expansive body and a carnal appetite to match, Faith (Emily Aston), a plain mouse with desires but no idea of how to go about satisfying them, and the obligatory stiff middle-class woman, Sarah (Trudie Goodwin).
At first it seems that Sarah has no more idea what she is doing here than the rest of us do, but it turns out that she is the pivotal character. You see, she’s had a mastectomy and in some confused way thinks that pole dancing might restore self-confidence in her body.
But unfortunately more bad medical news is on its way. Facing a death sentence, Sarah’s response is to invest in her own pole and a pair of crotchless knickers which, let’s say, doesn’t quite ring true.
But this is a genre which has a logic of its own. And despite being written by a man it clearly chimed with a large and overwhelmingly female audience which evidently enjoyed the women’s frank sexual banter.
The show itself, however, is scrupulously un-erotic. Even the very mild raunchiness of the women’s final fundraising gala performance is hardly anticipated in what leads up to it.
Running time: Two hours, 35 minutes. Until Saturday. Also at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, from Monday to Wednesday next week.