Charm OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    September 18, 2017
    Closing:
    October 8, 2017

    Theater: Lucille Lortel Theatre / 121 Christopher Street, New York, NY, 10014

    Synopsis: 

    When Mama Darleena Andrews--a 67-year-old, black, transgender woman--takes it upon herself to teach an etiquette class at Chicago’s LGBTQ community center, the idealistic teachings of Emily Post clash with the very real life challenges of identity, poverty and prejudice faced by her students. Inspired by the true story of Miss Gloria Allen and her work at Chicago’s Center on Halsted, Philip Dawkins' Charm asks--how do we lift each other up when the world wants to tear us down?

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Charm

    In ‘Charm,’ Challenges Emily Post Never Dreamed Of

    Jesse Green

    September 18, 2017:

    To an etiquette maven like Miss Darleena Andrews — you can call her Mama — proper introductions are crucial. So I wish that Philip Dawkins’s “Charm,” which opened on Monday at the Lucille Lortel Theater, did a better job of acquainting us with her unusual story.

    The premise is promising. Mama, a 67-year-old black transgender woman with an abiding faith in Emily Post, volunteers to teach a class in manners to the rough young transgender clients of a Chicago L.G.B.T.Q. center. From her own experience she understands how the niceties of proper conversation, of compliments and salad forks, can serve as talismans against despair, or at least as a kind of insurance against the loss of youthful appeal.

    The seven rowdy students who show up are not, at first, convinced by the retired nurse in the ladylike pink suit. “I ain’t got no table! The hell I spose to do with table manners?” hoots Donnie, who is homeless, cisgender and straight. Why he attends Mama’s class, then, is something of a mystery, unless it is in search of food or to tick an otherwise empty box on Mr. Dawkins’s agenda. For “Charm” is one of those lifeboat stories, in which a handpicked cross-section of disparate characters, trapped together in a small space, squabble, reveal themselves and try not to drown.

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