Northern Theatre Company take the classic musical Sweet Charity and transpose it into the gay scene of modern day New York with an almost entirely male cast. Young rent boy and hired dancer Charity decides he's tired of life as a prostitute and goes out in the search for love.
I saw this show on its opening night and a lot of things went wrong. Not willing to review it on such a shoddy performance, I attended the second night. Oh dear. If anything, it was worse.
Set against the backdrop of a filthy male urinal, Sweet Charity is one of the most offensive and utterly horrendous shows I've ever seen. What’s most irritating is the overarching lack of direction. What were the audience supposed to be thinking? Is it intended to be a ghastly stereotype of homosexuality? How did the scene in the Roman spa EVER get past the editing? Why are they miming props? Why does a character come on in jeans and a hoodie halfway through? Are we supposed to empathise with the infuriatingly tawdry Charity? Are we supposed to empathise with the young actors who looked like they wanted the ground to open up and swallow them in every single scene? I saw this show on its opening night and a lot of things went wrong. Not willing to review it on such a shoddy performance, I attended the second night. Oh dear. If anything, it was worse.
Sweet Charity contains every outdated gay stereotype there is, it is poorly researched and downright awful. It suffices to say that if a rating of no stars was available Sweet Charity would be struggling to fight its way out of negative figures.
The acting is limp and unremarkable, the dancing is unimaginative, boring and executed with zero precision, the singing is often out of time and tune and lacks the vitality of the once-vivid and energetic musical that is now forever sullied in my mind. The less said about the diabolical synthesizer that accompanies every number, the better. (Though I must thank whoever decided to change the setting from parping, deflated brass on the first night to the far more sensible piano on the second). This theatrical travesty is truly, unabashedly awful.The only redeeming feature of the whole musical is the acting of the young man who played Oscar. He was competent but definitely stood out against the background of bumbling inadequacy.
Conceptually, a gay version of Sweet Charity could work very well if the right thought, attitudes and sensitivity were applied. Unfortunately none of this was done and what results is an abysmal hour of devastatingly offensive and magnificently bigoted theatre that will have you in hysterics at its terrible execution. When a botched sound cue gets an applause, you know your audience is against you.
They say that charity begins at home, it should have stayed there. If you want to see the cringe of the Fringe this year, go - just don't forget to feel thankful that you're not one of the poor boys roped into this frankly embarrassing show.