Caroline Horton enters laden with suitcases against a pastel French tricolour. She is Christiane, the unique Chrissy of the show’s title. She waits at Gare du Nord, queuing for a ticket to England in the hope of reuniting with Cyril, her fiancé. This proves difficult though – it’s 1945 and European infrastructure is in turmoil. She has to wait. And wait. We wait with her and listen as she tells us her story.
By the time the show’s conclusion arrives – an unsurprising but highly personal denouement – we are well and truly won over by Chrissy and her charms.
She is sent to Staffordshire to learn English – she picks up the language quickly and her monologue is delivered in wonderfully endearing half-fluent half-broken English. She meets Cyril at a tennis club and the pair get engaged the following Christmas in Paris. When war breaks out, Cyril enlists and they are separated for five years. Chrissy tells us of the long years in between, of her determination and how she survived occupied France.
Horton is a lovely performer: Chrissy is endlessly charming and we never tire of her presence. Mostly, this is because Horton does not always paint her in an overly positive light: Chrissy seems difficult, stubborn and, at times, annoyingly blasé to the unfolding horrors of war that surround her. That such personality traits are represented is refreshingly three-dimensional – Horton does not deify her character and the piece is all the better for it.
We never really learn anything about the other characters that populate Chrissy’s story – her family and Cyril are distant; names and fleeting descriptions. It would have been nice to get a deeper sense of them, as it would the problematic juxtaposition of Chrissy’s bourgeois privilege with the increasingly challenging wartime backdrop.
The focus, however, remains resolutely on Chrissy. This is in no way a bad thing though, as Horton devotes 55 minutes to strengthening the relationship between her and us. By the time the show’s conclusion arrives – an unsurprising but highly personal denouement – we are well and truly won over by Chrissy and her charms.
You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy was nominated for an Olivier and performed extensively by Horton on tour. That it remains powerfully entertaining show is a testament to its craft and love.