EUSOG’s production of Sweet Charity is a fun, quirky romp that captures the timelessness of our protagonist Charity’s story as she stumbles through life and love in New York. Some moments in this production are a little rough around the edges, which leave an impression of unfulfilled potential, but these do not negate the audience’s enjoyment and even add a special charm to the show. The performers’ strong voices and commitment to their characters ensure an entertaining production with lots of laughs.
Sweet Charity follows the eponymous heroine in her life as a dance-hall hostess and eternal romantic, countering her ephemeral relationships with men with her supportive network of friends from the Fandango Ballroom. The role of Charity is a daunting one due to the character’s unwavering optimism and the show’s close focus on her throughout, but Tilly Botsford takes to the role with ease, radiating positivity and childlike naïvety while also depicting the character’s underlying loneliness with maturity. Her performance is captivating in its depth and sensitivity.
The musical is very demanding in its celebration of song and dance, drama and comedy. Unfortunately, elements of these are lost at various points throughout EUSOG’s performance, contributing to the feeling of unrealised potential. Poor comedic timing means that some of the more nuanced aspects of the original script’s humour are lost, though the use of blackboards does add extra jokes unique to this production. The lift scene is the comedic climax of the show, in which in the audience are introduced to Oscar, played by Ewan Bruce, as he is thrown into a hilarious panic by a broken lift.
On the other hand, the visuals of the production are highly stimulating. Elissa Webb’s bright and transportive lighting design and Rebecca Waites’ indulgent use of sheer shimmery fabric in her costuming combine to create striking imagery, most notably at the opening of ‘Big Spender’. These visuals are somewhat let down by the quality of the dance scenes, which are the biggest disappointment of the show. While the moments of disjoint between the music and dancing in ‘Rhythm of Life’ luckily add to the song’s chaotic atmosphere, the choreography of the ‘Rich Man’s Frug’ seems messy and jarring, interrupting the flow of the show. It is here that the production seems under-prepared, failing again to reach its full potential.
If your idea of a fun evening at the Fringe consists of an amusing, light-hearted show that combines music with comedy and romance, Sweet Charity is well-worth your time. While EUSOG’s production may not be as polished as it could be, these moments of messiness do not fully detract from the amusement of the show but instead, add to the overall charm of Charity’s story.
Paradise at Augustine’s – The Sanctuary
Runs 3-10 August
Buy tickets here
Image: Andrew Perry