Tuesday, 26 April 2011

April In Paris, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

April In Paris,
Devonshire Park Theatre,


Al - Rob Angell
Bet  - Wendi Peters

26-30th April 2011

Performance seen 26th April

Produced by the Hull Truck Theatre Company April In Paris was written by John Godber. It is the story of a Hull couple, Al and Bet, who have been married 25 years and who have become very much stuck in their ways and somewhat hostile towards each other. They appear to be together for reasons of habit rather than love or affection.

Bet then goes and wins a trip to Paris by entering a magazine competition. Al scoffed at the initial entry and then makes excuses about why he can't go but eventually, yet still reluctantly, he comes round to the idea.

Will the short break bring the magic back into their lackluster marriage? Well to find that out you need to go and see this very pleasing production.

It very much a gradual crescendo of a comedy. In fact I could understand some may have doubts about how much enjoyment this play will provide as the first 15-20 minutes or so are very much setting the scene, somewhat dark in fact. You could sitting there thinking it will be like this throughout.

All I can say is stick with it as Godber has written it this way for a reason.

The set on this one is interesting to say the least. To go into too much detail would be a spoiler for those who haven't seen this. But this is one production where the props and background have all been put to very good use and are very much just as important as the actual characters. The use of colour in the set is very clever indeed.

All prop changes between scenes are undertaken by the two cast members, unusual but it works.

The story-line itself is actually completely believable and one I expect anybody who has been married a number of years can relate to. Put it this way, coincidentally my wife and I have been married 25 years also and there were a number of aspects of this production we could relate to. I dare say with the 'older' Eastbourne audience who sat with us on this opening night we were not alone in feeling this way at times.

Wendi Peters & Robert Angell. Stars of April in Paris by Hull Truck Theatre Company Wendi Peters (former Corrie loudmouth Cilla Battersby) plays long suffering Bet. Rob Angell meanwhile (who was at the Devonshire Park Theatre not so long ago in Up 'n' Under') plays Al whose argument would be that he is more long-suffering than his wife. Combined these 2 make a very believable stuck-in-the-quagmire married couple.

I don't want to deceive people into thinking this is a rolling-in-the aisles comedy - it isn't. Instead it's a 'dry' sort of humour which keeps you chucking along nicely and I don't think Godber set out to make it anything else. Making it too hysterical would have detracted from the couple's underlying relationship problems.

For me this is the right balance of humour and the more serious aspects of the story. With a terrific cast, interesting set and the unusual use of colour this is my favourite Hull Truck production to date. From the audience reaction and good turnout at the Friends Of The Devonshire Park Theatre first night meet the cast event I don't think I was alone in thoroughly enjoying this.

Catch it on tour if you can!
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