revew: The Royal Exchange – Sweet Charity
book Neil Simon/
music Cy Coleman/
lyrics Dorothy Fields/
dir Derek Bond/
choreog Aletta Collins/
The Royal Exchange/
3/12/16 – 28/01/17//
roll up roll up come behold the amazing rotating emblem machine americas too big ive always felt americas far too big
Is America sick/stuck? I’ve been feeling lately that to say America conjures some sort of ahistorical hinterland. Some sort of Jackson Pollock canvas that keeps getting thicker with paint of the same colour the same colour. Sweet Charity, the book, the musical, as a historical object is recognisably a chronicle of an archetype of America – but watching it I feel my understanding slip and cannot pin it to an era/decade/mode. American is all archetype. I feel as if perhaps we are reprinting Disney’s most popular works, back onto the original cellulite, in thin enough layers to be totally undetectable. America has been so famous for so long. I love this film.
is that postmodernism or just a lack of attention on my part agh its probably symptomatic right i can say describe myself as a symptom then i can continue to be vague
America makes me feel sick and sad. Manchester, the UK, make me feel sick and sad. It is a grey day after a grey day outside but inside the Royal Exchange is the same transformed hybrid space I have always known it to be. Charity, played by Kasia Hammarlund, is an exercise in deferring sickness and sadness for a lifetime. Her foil is to be an optimistic woman in 1960s America. The men in her life are portals to a plane of existence higher than a dance club hostess, who refuse to open to her. The line that cracks Charity in her final scene is the knowledge she still has her dowry. At least her last man robbed her. No matter how many times she is chucked in a lake, she is not clean. Maybe this says something about the water.
i mean i hope to think my fear and sadness comes from a place of disappointed love rather than apathy i hope to think im capable of finding options oppositions i hope to be capable of not lying down
Unlike the Exchange’s other female narratives this year, Husbands and Sons and A Streetcar Named Desire, a feminist reading is difficult to foist on this production. The show’s conclusion seems to imply that, if only Charity bides her time, the society that keeps kicking her in the gut will at least swap boots for slippers. If only we bide our time that beautiful thing called progress will carry us to a sweeter place. This comes from a man increasingly seeing window-smashing as an appealing political option but there is no call for action from Charity, only patience (which she already has in spades).
i am miserable and a musical about america in the 60s isnt going to fix that maybe america isnt the sickness and its actually me ive been ill three times in the past two months
The main source of my discomfort is the failure of this production to engage critically with the gender politics it presents. The cause of Charity’s final breakup with her latest fiancé, Oscar, is his inability to deal with her not being a virgin. Charity sees no issue with this and begs him to marry her anyway – men being a rare and vital prop to becoming a whole person in 1960s America. Charity’s virtue throughout is simultaneously warming and maddening. Just once, I want to see her kick someone in the balls for being a dickhead.
pro balls kicking anti tory pro dog all round picky dude remind me to add this to future bios
BUT GIVE IT A REST VARNEY IT’S A BLOODY CHRISTMAS SHOW and real talk: I had a great time. And yes it is a Christmas show, so it’s not there to upset people, it’s there to entertain people which it bloody did. The Stage have given it five stars because it did its job and it did it well. Viewed as an amoral picaresque romp it’s often reminiscent of the sort of plot Angela Carter might spin, if a little tamer. My highlight was The Rhythm of Life Church, which I would happily have watched an entire musical about. Putting aside all the musing about America which it should be noted I did after seeing the show (being too busy having a nice time during) it’s entertainment. And for a couple of hours maybe it’s nice to forget about fascism and history and indulge in a spectacle about a mythical place that doesn’t seem to bear much relation to reality anymore anyway.