Theatre Review: Sweet Charity

Allegro cast members. Picture: Andrew Cowan

Allegro cast members. Picture: Andrew Cowan

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NEIL Simon scripts are doing the rounds among amateur groups in Edinburgh at the moment, which is both a blessing and a curse. Simon, whose canon of work includes Barefoot In The Park and The Odd Couple, has a lyrical, staccato style of comic delivery that is sublime to listen to as the drama unfolds. In the hands of amateurs who don’t nail the rhythm and pacing of their cues, however, it can be too painful to bear.

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Church Hill Theatre

For the most part, Allegro do a good job of keeping the story rolling along.

Sweet Charity, has a number of outstanding set pieces like Big Spender, Rhythm of Life and If My Friends Could See Me Now, alongside original director Bob Fosse’s choreography so there’s always something interesting happening on stage.

Their accents all hold up very well, a mercy for the audience that shouldn’t go unappreciated and choreographer Caroline Howie has tailored Fosse’s work well to fit the 
ability of the group.

Yet there is a problem with timing and cues that throws the whole 
production off.

Often lead Emma Dawson, whose Charity is pleasingly if confusingly reminiscent of Bridget Jones over a snappy Shirley Maclaine, seems awkward on stage while waiting for a cue from the orchestra or some other 
action to happen on stage.

If They Could See Me Now was a case in point, where Dawson has space to fill between verses and was unsure what to do with herself while standing centre stage.

The problem lies very much with the orchestra, who musical director Finlay Turnbull really ought to wrangle into submission, using brute force if necessary, in order to give the actors the confidence to set a tone and pace of their own on stage.

It’s a difficult balance to find and director Fraser Jamieson needs to invest more work in developing his actor’s comic timing and having the confidence to work off one and other.

Dawson and love interest Oscar Lindquist, played with a neurotic skittishness by Jonny Farley, have sweet encounters but they’re so busy with their own characters’ ticks and foibles that they don’t gel as a couple. An alternate ending to the stage show has them get together, even a few furtive glances before they step into the elevator together as they meet, would give them a greater sense of bonding.