‘April in Paris’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by December 15, 2014

‘April in Paris’ is an uncanny look at the life of a working class couple in the north of England. This 1992 hilarious comedy is from the pen of 58 yrs. old Yorkshire born dramatist, John Godber. Known mainly for his observation of life, he is the third most performed playwright in the UK, after William Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn. He wrote for the TV series ‘Brookside’ and ‘Grange Hill’. In 2005, he won two BAFTAs, going on to gain a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

The Harbour Group are one of the few theatres that give a fruit juice as an option to sherry, and offer hot chocolate or Milo at the interval, along with the coffee and tea.

‘April in Paris’ plays at Harbour Theatre, Camelot, 16 Lochee Street, Mosman Park until 14th December. The 140 minute-shows commence at 7.30 pm, except Sunday matinees at 2.00 pm.

 

Al (Alan Morris) and Bet (Nicola Bond) are sitting in their back garden, soaking in the English summer’s 18-degree day. They look across the valley at the pithead winding mechanism and the large condenser towers with their steam rising. Surely, life can be better than this. They still love each other, but the fire has gone.

Bet scans her women’s magazines for competitions. She has already won a food package and some useless electrical kitchen utensil, Al thinks that she should just give up.

Al has been made redundant and already bored out of his mind. He has tried artistic painting, but the artwork reflects his depressive state and the drab surroundings. One day a letter arrives, Bet has hit the jackpot, a holiday away – in Paris.

 

This is director Tina Barker’s first shot at directing. She has come up through the ranks, gathering experience as she goes. Now with a little guidance and mentoring from award-winning Peter Kirkwood, she has tackled this two-hander. Tina has chosen a superb pair of actors, both have years of experience and gathered many awards in their time.

To say that Nicola and Alan have managed to get a genuine chemistry is an understatement, you could really believe that they have years of marriage behind them. For many middle-aged couples this play is spelling out their life story, one minute the laughs flow fast and seconds later, you cringe as you recall the same events happening to yourself. Rob Tagliaferri’s lighting was wonderful, taking us from the gloom of England to sparkling Paris, the mood was always right. Peter Kirkwood’s soundscape was lively and inventive – with xylophone music during the scene changes. The scenery artwork was excellent (Melissa Bassett, Beth Law) and the adaptable set unit was designed with imagination. The unit was the Arc de Triomphe, a northern home, a room on the ferry and a nightclub entrance.  Great work by Brian Mahoney, Peter Kirkwood, Phil Redding, Matt Cuccovia, Bobby Wardell, Tina Barker, Kit Leake, Julie Mackay and Katherine English).

Magnificent, flawless performances from two talented players.

Tina can be proud of her direction; it was interesting and had a natural flow. First class show from a quality community group.