REVIEW: Times Square Angel, Union Theatre ✭✭✭

Times Square Angel at the Union Theatre

Times Square Angel
Union Theatre
3 Stars

The Christmas redemption story is one which has been bought to us in many forms be it in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or in Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, and now it finds itself presented in the guise of Times Square Angel, a play by Charles Busch currently playing at the Union Theatre.

It’s 1948 and in New York, Irish O’Flannagan a fiery performer has just finished her show at the Club Intime. Irish is a tough, world-wearied soul who has survived a lifetime of hard-knocks. It’s no ordinary night though, as she is visited by Albert,  an angel who previously performed as a magician on the vaudeville circuit has been sent to show her the future,save her soul and her life. Albert shows Irish that she is about to make a deadly mistake by becoming involved in the botched kidnapping of a senator’s daughter and that it’s not too late to change the future.

His preview of what is to come is rejected by Irish and it’s not until it all starts to come to pass that she realises it may be too late to change her fate.

It’s a simple enough formula, but with Times Square Angel is doesn’t quite work. Described as a “hard-boiled Christmas fantasy” you can’t help but get the feeling that many of the cast are performing in a different show altogether. Director Bronagh Lagan doesn’t seem to have decided what type of show Times Square Angel is, some moments are performed tongue-in-cheek whilst others are played for dramatic effect.

Ian Stroughair plays Irish, in a fiery whirlwind performance that captures the passion and strength of the character. As Albert, Irish’s angel of salvation, Michael Adams delivers an angel inbued with strength and compassion. Their scenes together really work and give Irish the vulnerability she needs to warrant a second chance. Tom Whitelock and Kandy Rohmann as Eddie and Peona provided stand out performances.

The overall staging is hindered by Philip Linley’s gauze dominated set, which runs the length of the space, breaking the playing space up into disparate units and large areas of playing space are wasted. Much of the action in Irish’s dressing room was obscured by structural columns which made for frustrating viewing.

There are some great moments in this Christmas fantasy, unfortunately, they are over-shadowed by other moments which seem confused and completely out of place making Times Square Angel a real lucky dip.

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