*** (3 Stars)
Southwark Playhouse, London - September, 2014
Set in the vibrant city of San Francisco in the rock ‘n’ roll year of 1963, this remarkable show follows the complicated relationship of the eager young Marine, Eddie Birdlace, with the gentle, charming waitress, Rose. Along with his fellow Marine chums, ‘The Bees’, Birdlace embarks on his final night out, before leaving for Vietnam the following morning. Their journey takes them on a whirlwind ride, they’ll never forget.
The story is told effortlessly by the talented cast and flows smoothly through Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s beautiful music and lyrics along with, YMT's Catfish! The Musical’s own, Lucie Pankhurst’s, quirky and bright choreography. Although the show as a whole takes time to gather momentum, once it does you won’t want it to ever end! Each performer is as dynamic as the next and the chemistry between the entire cast was a joy to watch, both on and off stage. Combining a great balance of emotional solos along with high-energy group numbers, the show offers a splendid variety for the audience.
The wonderfully witty book, by Peter Duchan, questions the need for war, highlights the strain it causes on relationships and humans’ natural instincts; yet has the ability to make the audience both laugh and cry uncontrollably. I feel the show really captured the essence of the camaraderie war brought upon young men, against the realistic fear it held in the hearts of young women. Although it’s set in San Francisco, 1963, I feel the messages portrayed are universally relatable and current.
Located in the intimate Southwalk Playhouse Theatre this show is only available until Saturday 13 of September. Therefore if you’re in need of a stimulating, moving, fresh and captivating evening, book your tickets now!
Richmond Theatre, London - Monday 17 March, 2014
The Two Worlds of Charlie F. is a rich tapestry of stories told by war veterans about their experiences of fighting in Afghanistan. Originally created as a rehabilitation programme for wounded, injured and sick (WIS) soldiers, Stephen Rayne's production was performed at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in 2012 and is now receiving a wider audience as it goes on tour.
As such, it feels wrong to give this piece a 'star rating' as that is not what it's for.
It offers an insight into what life is like for disabled soldiers and is open and honest. Whilst it felt a little one-side at times, this an important piece in understanding that the conflict lasts long after a soldier returns from war.
There is a clever combination of music, dance and song, which allows the soldiers to express themselves in various ways and they work really well together. There is a strong sense of camaraderie, obviously gained through working with each other for such a long period of time.
The Two Worlds of Charlie F. is playing around the UK. Details here: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-two-worlds-of-charlie-f/