Edinburgh 2018: BWW Review: YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN, Paradise @ Augustines
Clark Gesner's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown first opened on Broadway in 1967, based on the Peanuts comic strip characters created by Charles M. Schulz. Charlie Brown (Cameron Kirby), Snoopy (Ellie Campbell) and friends are brought to life in this revival by Bare Productions directed by Dominic Lewis.
The show is made up of a series of short scenes, much like the original comic strips, interspersed by musical numbers involving some or all of the 6-strong cast. Although largely "bitty" in structure, the recurring theme of Charlie attempting to become a better person gives a small degree of continuity.
Kirby portrays the title character with a sweet vulnerability, longing to be loved and prove himself worthy. Sally Brown, his younger sister, is played by the explosive Cathy Geddie, exaggerating every aspect of her performance to brilliant comic effect - notably her inclusion of a quirk typical of youngsters, showing off her underwear at every opportunity.
Lucy van Pelt (on this occasion played by the delightfully feisty Zoe Brookes) is a ball of energy, determined to get her way as she playfully bullies the others in the world of the show.
Thomas McFarlane plays exasperated piano virtuoso Shroeder who only wants to share his love for Beethoven with the world in an appropriately measured and non-commercial manner. His scenes with Brookes garner many laughs from the audience as he dodges her romantic pursuits.
David Doherty plays Linus, 5-year old philosopher, thumb-sucking addict and little brother to Lucy with a loveable warmth. His overly complicated analysis of Peter Rabbit for a book report and ode to his beloved blanket go down well with the crowd.
Ellie Campbell stands out as the iconic canine Snoopy. Normally a non-speaking character in the TV specials, Campbell gives a larger than life portrayal of Charlie Brown's loyal companion, oozing sarcasm and sass, particularly during the celebratory number "Suppertime".
The score contains a number of heart warming and hilarious numbers, ably led by MD Finlay Turnbull, which feature a number of musical styles, from gospel to jazz and everything in-between as the young characters navigate their way through life.
Felicity Thomas' choreography makes good use of the simply dressed space with well planned chase scenes (of which there are many!) and also complements the energetic nature of many of the musical numbers.
You could describe it as The Secret Life of 4 and 5 Year Olds - The Musical. For those familiar with the Peanuts franchise or not, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown is a show of silly delight for all ages.
Photo credit: Bare Productions