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Sweet Charity- musical review

After signing up for 'Young + Free' tickets through a beautifully generous scheme, I was lucky to bag myself a ticket to 'Sweet Charity', no expense spared. The Donmar Warehouse give the opportunity for 16-25 year olds to attend performances most Friday evenings completely free of charge, either by being selected via email or first come first serve at the venue- an offer that, if eligible, you can't miss. I'm so grateful for offers like these with the increase in ticket prices, but that's a whole new post. Right, now onto the actual show!

First performed on Broadway in 1966, the show has had many revivals here and there in its time, with this one being the newest edition to the collection. Providing a fresh take on the story, Josie Rourke (director) and her team have created an ingenious little production, bringing forward an old narrative that still holds messages still very relevant today.

'Sweet Charity' indulges the audience with a snippet into her life, in a rather cyclical episode of events. It begins with an incident involving the stealing of her handbag and being pushed in the lake by her then-boyfriend Charlie. Nickie, a fellow taxi-dancer and friend of Charity's, exclaims that her problem is 'you run your heart like a hotel- you've always got people checking in and checking out'- something that seems to stick in her mind while searching for her one true love. Following this, Charity learns new lessons about herself, the life she leads and the environment around her, between being in a film star's apartment and stuck in a lift.

Currently housing a small stage, the intimate setting is very cleverly transformed into a number of settings: from the fairground to a park; from a lift to a taxi dance hall. One of my favourite scenes, is that at the funfair, that incorporates the rotating floor with fluorescent props to create such a beautiful sequence. With the lake becoming a ballpit, and Anne-Marie Duff suspended in the air on a swing from the ceiling, the show really is something special.

Featuring the absolute belter 'Big Spender', this show is a brilliant showcase of the huge range of talent in such a little cast. Amid a number of technically challenging dance routines and range of costume changes, we frequently get to experience a fine selection of songs, each of which reverberates off every wall with strong vocals all round. Anne-Marie Duff has such a distinct, husky voice unlike any other I've ever heard, and completely perfect for the job- I am intrigued to see what she'll add to her long list of credits next, and will definitely look into being in attendance. Captivating us with her bittersweet portrayal of the emotions sweeping through her veins, Anne-Marie is at the forefront of the pack, yet it is so important to recognise the fact that she show would not come together without the group as a whole, and they're all stellar too.

Beneath the lighthearted surface of it all, the story of Charity Hope Valentine is raw and realistic- an honest portrayal of the lives of those in her situation. Being a dance hall hostess is tough upon the dating scene for Charity, and this musical truly highlights the way that each pathway is part of a wider journey: situations don't always have happy endings, but each and every one hold a lesson that needs to be learnt.

Overall, 'Sweet Charity' is a joy to watch, and one I really hope comes back again after this run.

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