Theatre review: Keeler - 'A tatty retelling of the Profumo Affair'

Charing Cross Theatre, London

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The Independent Culture

Christine Keeler is certainly in the limelight: 2013’s already seen Profumo: the Musical, while Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Stephen Ward opens next month.

Keeler is a tatty, airheaded retelling of the Profumo Affair. It’s authorised by the woman herself, but the portrayal of Keeler as naive ingénue doesn't quite ring true. Ward (Paul Nicholas, also directing, alas), calls Keeler his “silly baby” - awfully patronising, except that’s exactly how she acts. Between Sarah Armstrong’s petulant performance and Gill Adams’ clichéd script, this Keeler has all the depth of an ice-cube tray.

Men foam at her beauty, her legs. The constant slathering over semi-dressed bodies makes you feel queasy - fine, if that’s the point, but Keeler wants to have its cherry pie and eat it: there’s no attempt to grapple with such sexism, the audience positively invited to gawp too.

When you do get politics, it’s skated over. Key names and details in later trial scenes come out of nowhere. This is sloppy storytellling.

A shame, as the story is a cracker: Keeler and Ward’s relationship is intriguing, while there’s scope for a biting look at 1960s sexual politics, with espionage, celebrity, tragedy, all in the mix. Hell, there’s even courtroom drama - rendered staggeringly dull here. Lets hope the other side tell it better.

To 14 Dec;