Review Round Up: Sweet Charity, Donmar Warehouse

Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Josie Rourke’s final production at the Donmar Warehouse.

The Telegraph: **** “A bit like the country at large right now, director Josie Rourke is in a welcome holiday humour.”

The FT: **** “Anne-Marie Duff, irresistible as Charity, manages that very difficult task of making niceness work.”

British ***** “Rourke exposes the grim, hopeless dance-hall world of rentable bodies but balances it with comedy and pathos, lifted by Duff’s unforgettable performance as the fragile but unbreakable Charity.”

Time Out: **** ” Some people will hate the Warhol thing: I thought it was funny and rather smart (it’s actually entirely period-accurate for a show set in NYC 1966). Maybe it is a touch superficial in musical terms: I kept wistfully imagining a Velvet Underground-style drone rock reimagining of the entire soundtrack. Maybe that’s one for Rourke’s next adventure – right now, her work here is done.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “All in all, this Sweet Charity is both full of character, very enjoyable and highly intelligent. And so, rather surprisingly, a pretty good summary of Rourke’s artistic directorship as a whole.”

Culture Whisper: **** “It can be tempting to uproot a traditionally glitzy show in favour of a subversive contemporary revival, which tends to rhyme with images of cynical minimalism and feelings that are drained of colour. But Sweet Charity glitters so gleefully: Robert Jones’s sharp design plasters the walls in shades of chrome, while dancers tap their feet in gold boots and silver sneakers, and the pastel hues of Coney Island are swapped for glow-in-the-dark neons.”

Broadway World: *** “This is a bold revival, with strong style and brilliant design from Robert Jones, which swoops beyond the auditorium and downstairs into the Donmar’s shiny foyer. There are some fantastically stylised moments; the piece opens with Charity being pushed into a lake, which is represented by a fabulous ball pool contained in a cylinder as tall as the circle.”

The Times: ** “Sweet Charity needs a decluttering expert”

The Guardian: **** “much of the evening’s success derives from Duff, who radiates joy in the big numbers, flicking the audience with a silken banner in I’m a Brass Band, while suggesting that Charity’s happiness is sometimes hard won. It is an exhilarating performance supported by Arthur Darvill as Charity’s unstrung beau, Lizzy Connolly and Debbie Kurup as her supportive chums and Adrian Lester – in a role filled by a succession of starry guests – as a religious hipster. The show may be pre-feminist but, in Rourke’s hands, it has the rhythm of life.”

There Ought to be Clowns: “Jones’ design is rather effortful in its many parts and odd captions, and Wayne McGregor’s choreography relies a little too much on props (those stepladders…) to really make an impact (and I suppose it isn’t his fault Austin Powers has ruined 60’s style routines for me). Nowhere near enough charm in this Charity for my liking.”

The Upcoming: **** “The cast is terrific. Lizzy Connolly and Debbi Kurup are dynamic and interesting to watch as Charity’s supportive friends and co-workers. Martin Marquez is excellent as the famous movie star Vittorio Vidal. But, of course, the stand-out performance is by Anne-Marie Duff, who really is the beating heart of the play.”

Exeunt Magazine: “Duff delves into deep wells of vulnerability that give Charity dimensions beyond the paper-thin plot and characterisation. There’s no hint in her delivery of the polished West End musical style that tends to deaden any character work done between show tunes. Whether that’s because she can’t do it or it’s a creative choice may be up for debate but Sweet Charity is all the better for it.”

West End Whingers: “Phil struggled to warm to Anne-Marie Duff. She lacks the vulnerable charm and innocence of a classic Charity, is more mature than previous Charitys and has a singing voice that suggests why we’d not seen her in a musical before.”

Musical Theatre Review: **** “it’s far from a typical revival of a Fosse classic. But it’s all the better for that. Like Charity herself, Sweet Charity is rough around the edges, but it’s driven by love — and deserves to receive the same in return.”

London Student: **** “Sweet Charity  skilfully juxtaposes a dark and gritty reality with colourful and happy sounding songs, representing Charity’s hope and innocence. While this production has a somewhat sadder ending, cutting out some of the more cheerful lines included in the film and original, you still get the impression that Charity will live “hopefully ever after.” In this day and age, hope is all you can really ask for, and as such, Rourke has left the Donmar on a fitting note.”

British Theatre Guide: “Josie Rourke bows out of the Donmar with a visually stunning, musical extravaganza that should please the punters and will undoubtedly sell out.”

Sweet Charity continues to play at the Donmar Warehouse until the 8th June.

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