Paradise in Augustines, Edinburgh
Bob Fosse’s Sweet Charity is a genuine oddity, a brash belter of a musical that first hit Broadway in 1966, right at the dawning of the flower power movement. It has a delicious edge of hippy nuttiness about it and a plot that seems to have been generated by a malfunctioning software programme. It also features one of the bleakest endings to an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza that I’ve ever witnessed. So it seems a brave choice for EUSOG’s Fringe show, with the potential to go spectacularly wrong.
But the students rise to the challenge with their usual aplomb, delivering a high-octane, multi-coloured workout for the senses. Charity Hope Valentine (Tilly Botsford) works as a ‘dance hostess’ at the Fandango Ballroom, a seedy club in New York. She’s always on the lookout for the next big spender and eternally hopeful that one day she’ll find true love and escape from the clutches of Herman (Kirsten Miller), the club’s hardhearted manager.
But when Charity’s latest squeeze pushes her in a lake and makes off with her purse, she begins to suspect great things are not waiting just around the corner. Then she gets tangled up with fading Hollywood star, Vittorio Vidal (Rupert Waley) and, shortly afterwards, finds herself trapped in a lift with the neurotic Oscar (Ewan Bruce). Maybe this time things will work out okay… or maybe not. Ever have one of those days?
Botsford (who we’ve seen in a whole variety of roles over the past few years) is a constant delight in the lead role, singing and dancing her way through the story with evident glee and making us believe that such a ditsy character really could function in the real world. But this is more than just a vehicle for her talents. The vibrant ensemble dance routines are a joy to watch, particularly a frenetic rendition of The Rythm of Life led by Daddy Brubeck (Anna Phillips).
If you’re in need of a little more pep in your life, head down to Paradise without further hesitation and grab yourself a fix. It’ll light you up like a flashbulb.