Candace Bushnell : True Tales of Sex, Success and Sex and the City

The creator of Sex and the City, Candace Bushnell, brings her one woman show to the West End. If you want to know what parts of the show actually happened and about the real “Mr. Big” this is one for you.

Fashioning Carrie Bradshaw (made famous by Sarah Jessica-Parker), Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha on herself and her “many many” girlfriends, Candace was as I expected! She danced around the stage (a bright pink apartment) in a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s with tales of her career, childhood, friends and romantic encounters. Answering the telephone with “good news only” set the tone for her infectious optimism.

She was, I suppose, playing a version of herself that SATC fans wanted to see. The show was a mixture of her telling stories and acting out phone calls and meetings repeating what the other person was saying, “so Miranda/Samantha/Char[lotte]… you’re about to…”. Bushnell is not as natural an actress as she is a writer. I thought her accomplished story telling shone more when she recalled episodes of her life, without acting a scene.

Littered with games of “real or not real” (she did date a politician, but he didn’t ask her to pee on him (a well-known SATC scene)) and “Lessons” (…be financially independent, girlfriends are your rock..) flashing up on a big screen, we heard the ups and downs of navigating life, love and work as a woman who began her big city career in the 1980s.

Sexual encounters produced choke on your cosmopolitan moments and got laughs. Then there was the disappointment of a marriage to her Mr. Big, making her relatable to everyone whose been through a painful breakup. Throughout, she was navigating the setbacks and successes of pursuing her dream of being a journalist and author, relying on herself and the emotional support of her friends.

We careered through her life at such pace that there wasn’t enough depth to any of the stories. I have no doubt that Bushnell grafted and struggled to make ends meet, especially as a young female trying to carve out a career in the 1980s, when women couldn’t even have credit cards.

She told us it was hard, but there wasn’t enough time to get across the intricacies of her battle to get to the top, balancing that with her personal life and how the two collided. Everything seemed to happen, dare I say it, “…just like that..”. Landing the article “How to Dance in a Disco”, by asking people for a job whilst boogying next to them in Studio 54, came across as a breeze. And, being delighted that she wouldn’t have to live on soup anymore when she started making money didn’t have much impact when we’d just been informed that in the same time period she’d been convinced to buy a pair of knee high black Manolo boots.

At 65, Bushnell’s success, independence and youthful exuberance, are something to admire. SATC contributed to a shift in attitude towards women and the way we talk about sex and for that she should be applauded. I’d just rather listen to an interview or watch a dramatisation of her life, both of which might give more depth to her story.

But, Bushnell has a firm fan base built on the success of Sex and the City and so the show will be a big hit.

This show was reviewed on the 7th February 2024.  Candace continues to tour across the country and tickets can be found here: http://candacebushnell.entertainers.co.uk/

Review written by Victoria Willetts

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