Sitcoms are excellent. They’re silly, they’re clever, they’re funny and they make us smile a little bit when we feel less than perfect. Importantly, above all else, they are fun. As a lifelong fan of the show Scrubs, I couldn’t help but notice parallels between my favorite sitcom and the style of Charlie Sinclair. It’s irreverent, somewhat faux-intellectual, and has the potential to be as sugary as a powdered donut. And when it was like that, I found myself becoming a part of the laugh track. But Charlie Sinclair was not perfect, and while its highs were high, inconsistencies in the script and direction kept the show from its potential.
Charlie Sinclair, played by Shehryar Sheikh is a bit of an odd duck. He’s just quit his job at a publishing firm to pursue his novel, yet seems incapable of writing it. His relationship with his family and his girlfriend are falling apart, he’s got no meaningful friendships, and he’s nearly flat broke. However, everything changes when a woman mysteriously falls out of his window, and into his bed. It’s in these little moments of absurdity where Charlie Sinclair shines. With characters talking around each other, getting into impossible situations, and in general just acting somewhat wacky, the parallels between this show and something like Friends or Frasier is hard to miss. Of note here are the characters of May and Pam, played by Ellie Connon and Zoe Voice. These two, playing Charlie’s mother and the woman mysteriously entering his life, brought an incalculable amount of energy and levity to the show. Yet for every moment of brilliant chemistry between Charlie and May or his mum, there were two moments where the script felt like a misguided melodrama.
The set design was simple and functional, with the single room of Charlie’s flat staying as the setting throughout the play. Unlike most single room sets, this felt lived in, with crisp packets on the floor, clothes flung everywhere, and a messy bed. The tech was minimal but effective, although a few of the lighting cues could have been a bit clearer. One of my favorite elements was James Green’s piano in the background, which added a bit of texture to scene changes. Green himself added a more than healthy dose of personality to the play, his silent reactions being a notable highlight.
Sitting in the library, writing this review, I feel glad that I went to see Charlie Sinclair, because it genuinely brightened my day. While the show’s moments of drama may have been weak, Charlie Sinclair touched on something that is typically only achieved by your favourite sitcom episodes, being able to make you laugh sweetly and innocently.