One of the most shocking things about The Women, performed by HCA Extended Diploma in Performing Arts students, is just how relevant and contemporary the play, first staged in 1936, remains!

Adapted by Naomi Dale-Cook from the original play by Clare Boothe-Luce and presented as a musical revue, The Women is, without a single male character appearing, all about men ... and about the nature of female friendship.

At the heart of the story is happily married Mary Haines (Rosie Williams, surely a star of the future), who is unwittingly 'living in a fool's paradise' as her husband cheats on her with Crystal Allen, (played with all the sassiness this part requires by Jasmine Howard-Jennings). But gossip hungry and envious Sylvia Fowler (a scarily convincing performance from Megan Dover) ensures that she doesn't remain in the dark for long and soon, despite her mother's advice to leave well alone, she is in Reno awaiting her divorce...

Set in a world of Manhattan socialites who fill their days with gossip and shopping, The Women presents a cast of women whose security comes from the wealth of husbands who, like their wives, are clearly in a state of constant dissatisfaction, ensuring a merry-go-round of coupling and uncoupling as the pairings are reconfigured.

Countess de Lage (Krista Passberger) is on her fourth husband and, having used her wealth to create a movie star of Buck Winston, he moves on to Crystal, the woman responsible for the destruction of Mary's marriage ... and so it goes on.

If there's a message here, it's that you can't count on men or your friends for any kind of loyalty. Plus ca change as they say - it's a depressing conclusion to have to draw, but there was nothing depressing about this vibrant, beautifully acted and sung production. Every one of the 13-strong cast delivered a clearly defined, neatly nuanced performance - Megan Skivington's permanently pregnant Edith Potter a case in point, as was Hannah Power's Peggy, Rhiannon Wilding Smith's Miriam and, as Nancy Blake, the one woman who has opted out of the contest, writing books instead and offering a sardonic snippy observation on proceedings now and then, Alanis Ruck caught just the right note of the outsider's weary despair at her friends' behaviour.

The cast was completed by Jaimie Foxx as Mrs Morehead, Bethan Stockwin as Olga, Phoebe Barnett as Jane, Jasmine Phillips taking three other parts and a special mention goes to the only male in the cast - Nye Morris as Lucy.

It would be a shame if this was the last we saw of The Women - it deserves another outing and a still wider audience.