by Gill Adams.
Charing Cross Theatre The Arches Villiers Street WC2N 6NL To 14 December 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 08444 930 650.
Review: William Russell 7 October.
As thrilling as yesterday’s mashed potatoes.
Paul Nicholas has come an almighty cropper with this limp, ill-constructed play by Gill Adams about Christine Keeler, the 1960s goodtime girl whose love-life ruined the ministerial career of John Profumo, Secretary of State for War, and brought about the suicide of Stephen Ward, osteopath and pimp to the political classes.
Based on one of Keeler’s books about the scandal, Adams’ play provides unrelenting tedium. We are told nothing worth knowing about Keeler, other than she was fond of a good time, did not mind going to bed with men old enough to be her grandfather, and had some low-life lovers while lodging with Ward. Nor do we learn anything new about Ward.
We meet Keeler in the dressing room at Murray’s Cabaret Club where, with Mandy Rice Davies, she is a dancer who services the clientele and has just been taken up by Ward, with whom she is deeply impressed. The affairs with Profumo, Lord Astor and Russian Attaché Eugene Ivanov follow, as do her encounters with low-lifes Johnny Edgecombe and Lucky Gordon.
Eventually the Profumo affair is uncovered, the press goes crazy, he lies to Parliament about Keeler, the link with Ivanov is exposed – this is the height of the Cold War – Ward is arrested and charged with living on immoral earnings.
In Act Two, so tedious is Keeler’s story, the focus shifts to Ward’s trial as he loses his famous “friends.” The play still fails to create any interest. What was Ward’s secret? He must have had charm, been someone they could accept into their world, to have plied his trade as pimp in the first place.
Of that there is no hint in one-time golden boy Paul Nicholas’s Ward, a dry, ascetic, washed out man in grey, whose appeal to the girls he controlled so strictly is inexplicable, while Sarah Armstrong as Keeler is given nothing of interest to work on.
Stacy Leeson has a couple of nice moments as Mandy Rice Davies, but as she was peripheral to the affair she hardly appears. From time to time some nice period pop tunes get played.
Stephen Ward: Paul Nicholas.
Christine Keeler: Sarah Armstrong.
Lucky Gordon: Marcus Adolphy.
Lady P/Swing: Carina Birrell.
Eugene Ivanov: Alex Dower.
John Profumo: Michael Good.
Lord Astor: Andrew Harrison.
Doris/Dance Captain: Hannah Jordan.
Lord Tubs/Swing: Stephen Joseph.
Mandy Rice Davies: Stacy Leeson.
Director: Paul Nicholas.
Designer: Charlie Camms.
Lighting: Mike Robertson.
Choreographer: Chris Hocking.
Costume: Jonathan Lipman.
Fight director: Andrei Zayats.