Charlie Brown has never pitched a winning baseball, fails at football and can’t keep a kite in the air. But he isn’t the only one dealing with disappointment. All Charles M Schulz characters are riddled with anxiety – a strange but winsome mix of childish innocence and existential angst.
It’s a duality brought nicely to life in Clark Gesner’s 1967 musical based on the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip, and one that elevates it beyond a loud, bright, cheesy-grinned kids’ show. Gesner and Michael Mayer (who adapted the show in
1999) offer no storyline, just a series of vignettes developing the particular torments of each character – from Linus’s blanket dependency to Lucy’s out-of-control crabbiness.
There are brilliant turns from Hayley Gallivan as Sally Brown (she really does make dropping her ice-cream look like a Shakespearian tragedy), as well as Mark Anderson’s Snoopy, whose cabaret tribute to supper will leave you chuckling long after the curtain.
In fact, the whole cast, with help from director Anthony Drewe, do a fine job in a tight space: they serve up a playful, spirited homage to a comic-strip master.
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