Home Theatre, Manchester; Saturday 8th July 2017
Charles Bukowski was a German-born poet and writer who, as a child, moved with his family from Germany to America in the 1920s. Despite initial struggles, he seems to have spent most of his later life in Los Angeles doing not much more than simply having a very, very good time.
Based in Amsterdam, Nineties Productions have taken the spirit and ethos of Bukowski’s life and works and turned it into an extravagant tribute concert that is, quite frankly, crazier than a bag of spanners. Taking on the appearance of a tribute band who would easily win any cabaret night on Manchester’s Canal Street, Charlie and the Bukowskies celebrates the zany fun of the man’s life through a series of songs, poetry readings, and one truly filthy sex scene that can only be described as hardcore middle-class pornography of the finest kind.
Like a spectacular episode of Eurotrash, Charlie and the Bukowskies is full of thumping Euro pop to get the feet tapping and the head nodding. There are special guest appearances from Bono and Sean Penn, who both pay tribute to their friend Charles.
Though it’s all about fun and frivolity, things sometimes get serious as the music stops and a profound piece of poetry is recited. But that’s a minor inconvenience as the party atmosphere is soon restored.
As the show ends, the performers acknowledge that they are the final act of the 2017 Flare Festival and kindly invite the entire audience to join them on stage for a proper cockney knees-up – it’s what Charlie would have wanted. The young hipsters in the crowd duly oblige, the old fogeys squirm in alarmed discomfort. An upbeat and entertaining end to a fantastic festival of new international theatre.