Saturday, 16 April 2011

Jack Charles v the Crown

I can't recall ever hearing of Jack Charles and when My suggested we see Jack Charles v the Crown I checked out a newspaper review and was immediately doubtful about the prospect. The review was favourable but I imagined that a theatrical production about an Indigenous actor, entertainer, musician, pottery teacher, cat burglar and drug addict who was taken from his mother at the age of two and spent his formative years in boys homes and foster homes and who was imprisoned on twenty-two occasions may not be all that much fun.

I'm glad that we went. Effectively the production is a soliloquy with Jack Charles relating his own story with supporting music provided by an onstage trio. The drama is illustrated with images from a documentary and past photographs of Charles flashed on a background wall. Charles has a fine theatrical voice and the delivery of a poet.

The climax of the play is a mock appearance before the High Court in the form of a presentation to the audience of Charles' plea for his past criminal history to be expunged so that he can make the most of the remainder of his rehabilitated life; hence the play's title. It all makes for simple yet effective and moving theatre.

My only reservation is the somewhat intrusive sound design especially in the opening sequence which I found initially marred my understanding of what was being said. Happily the intrusive nature of the background sound dissipated or else I became used to it and I was able to follow the narrative thereafter.

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