In an age where we wake up to scandal on the news every morning and have forgotten it all by lunch it is difficult to imagine just how big an event the Profumo affair was back in the sixties. The infamous case of the Government Minister for War John Profumo sleeping with showgirl Christine Keeler dominated the press in 1963 and led to Profumo resigning amid a media frenzy that rocked the very core of Government.
Andrew Lloyd Webbers latest offering tells the story through the eyes of Dr Stephen Ward, an Osteopath and Socialite who was the man responsible for introducing Profumo and Keeler. Used as a scapegoat Ward was put to trial on the grounds of living off immoral earnings. A ridiculous charge but one that led to Ward committing suicide on the final day of his trial.
The colourless score trundles the story along harmlessly enough although we never truly get a sense of the real drama that engulfed the whole episode. The biggest problem here is that we don’t really care about any of these people. It is not until the woefully underused Joanna Riding sings her heart out as Profumo’s wife having just been told of her husband’s infidelity that we have any moment of real emotion.
As Keeler Charlotte Spencer cuts a stunning figure and looks every inch the goodtime girl but her voice is harsh and unfeeling and at times has a tendency to creep into a shout.
Alex Hanson plays Ward and does so with his usual charm and ease. Although he is rarely offstage you get the feeling that Hanson never really gets the opportunity to stretch his wings vocally or emotionally. It is only during his final suicide scene that he gets the chance to take our breath away, and this he does.
With a touch of nudity and an attempt at mild titillation Richard Eyre’s slick production is functional rather than inspiring and won’t be rocking anyone’s world anytime soon.