Goodbye Charlie by George Axelrod

Cast & Crew

  • Michela Carattini
  • Vincent Andriano
  • Rosemary Ghazi
  • Directed by Deb Mulhall
  • Lighting by Taylor Allen
  • Sound by Deb Mulhall
Goodbye Charlie   photographed by John Reeves
Reviewed by Lynne Belvedere in Sydney Arts Guide
George Axlerod is a master playwright, and has created another screwball comedy play, as good as his play “The Seven Year Itch”.
Charlie Sorel isn’t the man he once was. Ever since he was shot by a jealous husband. Charlie can’t remember what happened, and finds himself returned as an attractive blond woman. It seems that ‘someone up-there’ is determined that Charlie atones for his sins. But although Charlie has changed, he doesn’t understand what exactly his sins were, or how his punishment fits his crimes. His best friend is staying at his house, as he puts Charlie’s affairs in order and after being convinced, finds himself an unwilling helper in Charlie’s new plan to marry into money. The original Broadway production of “Goodbye Charlie” written by George Axelrod opened at the Lyceum Theater on 16 December 1959 and ran for 109 performances starring Lauren Bacall. Those who want to see a quintessential Sixties play, along with some rib-tickling one-liners, will be delighted with this play, now successfully localized to be set in Sydney in 2013.
Michela Carattini (‘Pride and Prejudice’) as Charlie Sorel and Vincent Andriano (‘Julius Caesar’) as George Tracy are simply sublime, have great chemistry, and their timing is just perfect. Rosemary Ghazi (‘The Vagina Monologues’) impressed as Rusty Mayerling. Highly recommended and with a great surprise ending.
review from australian theatre net
The Factory Space Theatre Company’s production of Goodbye Charlie is a pleasing comedy of errors. Deborah Mulhall directs the modernised adaptation of George Axelrod’s play where we meet the unlikely trio of George, Rusty and the allusive Charlie Sorel. We soon learn of Charlie, the Barney Stinson-eque womaniser who is forced to re-think his tactics after being killed and reincarnated as a woman. As someone who has been seemingly blessed with charisma, opportunity and the gift of the gab, Charlie soon finds out that this may just be his toughest challenge yet. With thick dramatic irony and rom-com sensibilities we soon find ourselves melded to the plight of the seemingly misunderstood Charlie and his friends. But, let us not forget the players…
It is clear that actress Michela Carattini (Charlie Sorel/The Baroness) has hit her stride with the comedy genre. Her commitment to the embodiment of character showcases her great comedic timing and physical dedication to the role. Her approach to the playboy Charlie Sorel is detailed and ranges from the highly sexual narcissist to the vulnerable, honest girl. Vincent Andriano gels the story together as Charlie’s long-suffering best friend George Tracy. As the medium between the reincarnated Charlie and the rest of the world, Andriano is on stage for the majority of the production yet he maintains a refreshing energy throughout. Rosemary Ghazi rounds out the ensemble with a performance of a delicate socialite and avenging lover. Her graceful and seductive portrayal of the manipulative Rusty Mayerling is a delight to watch. The intimate space of the Star of Sea Theatre in Manly is ideal for this play. The early audience interaction cleverly gives the patron an invested appreciation of the characters. The play’s Sydney locale allows the character stereotypes to be reinforced and met with a knowing smile from the audience. Witty and dramatic, this show is a refreshing comedy that is great fun!
Review of Goodbye Charlie at the Star of the Sea Theatre. Sept 20th 2013. General admission.
from WLewis (playwright and Novelist, TheatreBlog).
The promo says that Charlie Sorel isn’t the man he once was. Well, that’s for sure. Charlie has been around for a long time in different manifestations: in a Broadway show with Lauren Bacall in 1959 and philandering Charlie is back in this lively 2013 Factory Space production, set not in a Malibu beach house but somewhere in Sydney.
Goodbye Charlie is a zany farce with awkward realisations, lots of physical comedy, and shining moments – little gems where the actors get into ‘the zone.’ It’s nice to see a production not afraid to have moments of space – silence – every so often between characters. Faithful friend George has that angst-ridden, neurotic, dare-I-say-Woody Allen kind of persona. But this George is Australian not American and injects loads of warmth into his role as Charlie’s best and possibly only friend. He switches effortlessly from despair, to loyalty, to revulsion, to caring; he is a nicely polished comic performer who warms to the role as the action heats up. There’s a scene where Charlie wonders whether he’s wearing too much make-up and George in a semi-drunken stupor gazes blithely ahead and answers no – moments like that really make this show.
Early in Act I, when smoke begins to drift across the stage and we hear the sound of ocean waves, we know that something bizarre is about to begin…and it does! Without giving too much away, Charlie does a great job of someone given a new start in life – but not the kind of new start they wanted. Charlie’s physical presence commands the stage. The gestures, the posture, the scowls and over–reactions are all there. The transformations and costumes give Charlie lots to play with and the result is great fun. The actors relish making the most of it – who can forget Charlie’s entrance stage left in that particularly fetching black and white outfit and George’s observation that he looks like a chicken? George and Charlie work well as a duo; a funny moment springs to mind when George has Charlie clinging to him for dear life – and somehow manages to drag him back to the couch.
Halfway through, we are left wondering what on earth can possibly happen. How can Charlie get out of this? How can this be resolved? And that’s a good thing to be left with at interval…
While Charlie is right at home in the 21st century, Rusty seems straight out of the 1940’s with her perky manner and pretty little dresses. Hers is a nuanced performance – intially quite vacuous, she transforms into a cunning young thing before finally showing her vulnerability. Her Act II speech in which she talks about her love for Charlie is gently moving, probably the poignant moment of the play. After a wacky Act I, Act II does shift into slightly less light-hearted territory and does try and make a point about how important it is to acknowledge love, genuine love, but, at the end, what Charlie and the unsuspecting George are left with is….well, it’s a resolution of sorts.
Does Charlie finally discover what love is? Or perhaps Charlie hasn’t ‘changed’ at all? Has he learnt his lesson? Or does he remains a two-timing, duplicitous ‘friend’? Interesting how such a romp of a play can have such different responses…hats off to Charlie & co. for a fun evening’s entertainment!