Fringe Guru Review of Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues by Richard Stamp
“Ten years in the making, Sam Devereaux’s self-penned one-man play is funny, tragic, and deeply affecting. We snoop on private moments in a rock’n’roll superstar’s Las Vegas dressing room, while he prepares for another headline act in front of an adoring crowd. But fame hasn’t proved what he’d hoped for. As he pops the pills he needs to get his tired body through one more show, we learn that what he really wants – something truly special – is to sit on the porch, and play blues on his harmonica.
Devereaux’s monologue is a masterpiece, both as a playwright and an actor. In a skilfully-written script, the singer’s solitary rambling never seems contrived, and his bittersweet back-story emerges as naturally as if we’d seen the other characters appear in the room. He’s driven by his father, his daughter, the demands of his fans; he says he still loves his estranged wife, and I, for one, believe him. Devereaux’s timing is perfect, his emotions feel true, and he beautifully reflects the contradictions of a pleasant man reduced to truculence by those around him.
And then there’s the music. If you don’t like Elvis-style rock’n’roll, at least a little bit, you might want to steer clear of this show – because there are plenty of tunes and moves to enjoy. I admit I was underwhelmed by the first halting numbers, and wondered whether Devereaux was, in fact, up to the task of mimicking a performance to a stadium crowd. But I was proved triumphantly wrong: he has got what it takes, and any bad notes are entirely intentional.
If the curtain had fallen at the end of the first act – as the star, pulling himself together one last time, decides that the show must go on – this would still have been a first-class play…But it’s the second act which left me sweating and breathless, wrung out by the human tragedy of what I’d just seen. With a broken, defiant monologue and some devastatingly meaningful songs, Devereaux takes his loveable character – and flies him straight into the ground. The tension he creates is all the more remarkable, because there’s no doubt about the ending; we were told exactly what will happen in the first few seconds of the play. We know he will falter, and we know he will die.
For those fifteen or twenty endless minutes, I wasn’t in Brighton; wasn’t in an audience of six people, in a function room above a bar. Instead, I was in a crowded stadium, watching with fascinated horror as my childhood hero imploded on stage. Nothing existed except that merciless spotlight – and the echoing voice of the man I’d come to care for, as he single-handedly destroyed his life and his career. The music died in Las Vegas, in 1979. And I saw it happen; I was there.”
-Wednesday, May 8, 2012 – Full review available here.
Watch Clips from the 2011 Productions
About Ewa Kolodziejska – Director and Acting Coach
Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues was directed by Ewa Kolodziejska. Ewa is one of the most popular international acting coaches based in London, and “best kept secret” in the industry.
Ewa was born and bred in London, but is multi-lingual. Her life-long love of theatre meant that she trained as an actress for 5 years, in some of the world’s top Drama Schools, Arts Educational, LAMDA, and RADA. In 2010 she completed her MA in Actor Training and Coaching at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Her ongoing research into the psychology behind acting has led her to investigate the science of success: a practical tool that promises higher success rates for actors.
What makes her stand out is her ethos and raison d’etre. Having a father who was a life coach, meant that she grew up with not only a very positive outlook on life, and a unique awareness of the human psyche and 21st century life coaching, but more importantly it has had a direct impact on her as a working practitioner. Ewa is not only passionate about life, but above all about people, which is the main reason why she is drawn to the theatre. Her driving force is in showing actors that self-belief is the key to success.
Click on this link to find out more about Ewa’s work.