Tuesday, July 23

Je Suis Charlie – 53Two, Manchester

It only takes a glimpse of 9/11-themed musical Come from Away or Carly Wijs’ Us/Them to appreciate that theatre and terrorism is an atypical yet resonating combination, when handled tactfully. Rough Boy Mcr attempts to do the same with Je Suis Charlie, but this verbose one-acter fails to lift any sort of new, thought-provoking interpretations from its source material.

A Grindr hook-up takes an unforeseen turn shortly after the timid and youthful-looking Mike turns up to satirical cartoonist Charlie’s home; the two roles are dutifully played by Ben Bradfield and Ben Rigby respectively.

Putting aside its several distracting plot holes, the serious conflict in Je Suis Charlie is interrupted by frequent, formulaic comedy that rarely sits right in the context- though Rigby’s gags and quips receive regular rounds of mature-sounding laughter.

The piece quickly descends into little more than a faith-motivated spat on X (formerly known as Twitter) told verbatim, making it clear that the irony of dialogue about preaching to the converted (and using outdated humour) is lost on writer Nick Maynard. Homosexual intolerance motivated by religion is already a widely understood concept: a crowd of primarily LGBTQ+ theatregoers requires very little lecturing on this. The eventual- and predictable- attempt at ‘balancing out’ both characters’ beliefs simply doesn’t work.

A beleaguered audience is bible-bashed to within an inch of its life during the last fifteen minutes as script turns into scripture, ultimately bringing Je Suis Charlie to an optimistic end – albeit one that couldn’t come sooner.

Je Suis Charlie continues at 53Two in Manchester until 30th March with tickets available from https://roughboymcr.co.uk/event-list/

Reviewer: Scot Cunningham

Reviewed: 28th March 2024

North West End UK Rating: 

Rating: 2 out of 5.
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