(Claire Allfree’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 5/12.)
A singing washing machine? A crooning night bus? Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s 2003 musical set in Civil Rights-era Louisiana remains one of the most innovative modern examples of the form: a giddy marriage of fierce social observation and a gospel- and Motown-inflected score delivered by a cast that includes kitchen appliances and a rising moon. Daniel Evans may have made a bold choice in programming this exuberant musical fantasia as part of his inaugural season at Chichester, but it’s thoroughly vindicated by this pocket-sized staging from Michael Longhurst, which emphatically drives home the show’s social currency 10 years after it premiered at the National.
Change takes on many meanings in Caroline, from the winds of revolution blowing through 1963 to the nickels and dimes that form the bedrock of the American dream. In a hellishly overheated basement in Lake Charles, Sharon D Clarke’s eponymous black maid Caroline is impervious to the former and – it soon turns out – tormented by the latter as she sweats out her days laundering clothes for the Gellman family.