by Peter Souter.
Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue Swiss Cottage NW3 3EU To 28 February 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed 2.30pm Sat 3pm.
Audio-described 28 Feb 3pm (+ Touch Tour 1.30pm).
Captioned 24 Feb.
Post-show Discussion (transcribed) 24 Feb.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7722 9301.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 January.
Neat, sweet and touchingly hilarious.
This is the kind of play – realistic, smart, about personal relationships among the educated classes – that Hampstead Theatre seems to have been doing well since its inception decades ago. This time they’ve done it well twice, as Peter Souter’s human comedy began in the secret bowels of Swiss Cottage last year, earning a necessary, and utterly deserved promotion to ground-level and the main auditorium with a rapidity exceeded only by the late Simon Gray.
Hello/Goodbye (the central slash distinguishes it from Athol Fugard’s very different 1965 drama Hello and Goodbye) treads a much (doubtless over-much) used path as two young people meet, fall in love, then part. It’s sort of Love Story but without the mush, music or death, being sparky, lively and genuinely sympathetic.
As a story of lovers-to-be it starts with suspicion and panic as two people move into the same flat. Both claim it’s there’s, and there is little doubt who will be right, for Juliet is chaos on legs, while pedantic Alex is the sort for whom a career in chartered accountancy would probable prove just too exciting.
He may annoy (he certainly annoys her), but Alex is never wrong, and his collection of ephemera has a completeness which brings a monetary value highly credible in a week when a single 1970-s toy, perfectly packaged, fetched £18,000 at auction.
Shaun Evans evinces the character’s quiet persistence and patient willingness to explain, which gives a vital human edge, while Miranda Raison fuels the fury firing Juliet’s manic disorganisation with varied colouring. The friend she hauls on to sort Alex out is like a great dog that’s all lick instead of bite, while Juliet later wastes more energy through her assumption about the attractive young woman Alex has round in the second act when, ten years on, they’re parting again.
Juliet’s quietened somewhat by then, her loose hair tied back, while Alex’s maturing has been quietly internal. The success of Tamara Harvey’s beautifully-cast production is the space it gives the actors to develop physical and vocal details and contrasts, building a long-haul humanity from the initial comic outburst.
Alex: Shaun Evans.
Juliet: Miranda Raison.
Luke: Luke Neal.
Amanda: Bathsheba Piepe.
Director: Tamara Harvey.
Designer: Lucy Osborne.
Lighting: David Holmes.
Sound: Emma Laxton.