THE MAN ON HER MIND To 27 October.


by Alan Hruska.

Charing Cross Theatre The Arches Villiers Street WC2 6NL To 27 October 2012.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr 40min One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 493 0650.

Review: William Russell 25 October

Mind boggling balderdash.
There is arguably quite a neat idea behind this would-be comedy by Alan Hruska, but the laughs never come in spite of the strenuous efforts of a good cast. Nellie (Amy McAllister) lives in a one room apartment in New York. A publisher’s editor, she is entertaining her boyfriend Jack (Samuel James, playing hyperactive).

Then her older sister Janet (Georgia Mackenzie, being winsome) comes to call and Jack hides in the bathroom. Janet goes to the bathroom. But no encounter occurs. Janet leaves. Re-enter Jack. It is then we realise he is a figment of Nellie’s imagination, the ideal secret friend. Her sister, a suburban housewife married to boring Frank (Shane Attwooll) wants to set Nellie up with Leonard (Samuel James, playing really weird and hyperactive), who lives next door, ghost-writes books and happens to be the spitting image of Jack. Leonard’s house is full of packing cases and no furniture, suggesting, like Nellie, he is strange.

Naturally Leonard also has a secret friend, who, no surprise, is the spitting image of Nellie. As a situation it is entertaining enough, but neither Nellie nor Leonard, let alone their secret friends, are terribly interesting, although Janet, who clearly loathes Nellie, has a second act tantrum worth waiting for.

But what could have been a very funny dissection of imagination, friendship, loneliness, sex with the perfect stranger and sisterly envy is really pretty tedious. The pleasure of the evening is the splendid set by Emma Bailey and the antics of the stage hands who transform it from Nellie’s box into Leonard’s massive country house and back again several times.

With sharper lines, more defined characters one cared about, and better arguments for the characters to put as they dissect their various plights, real or imaginary, it might have worked but as it is the play limps slowly along to a resolution one does not care about one way or the other.

Nellie: Amy McAllister.
Jack/Leonard: Samuel James.
Janet: Georgia Mackenzie.
Frank: Shane Attwooll.

Director: Bruce Guthrie.
Designer: Emma Bailey.
Lighting: Matt Haskins.
Sound: Mike Walker.
Movement: Jack Murphy.
Accent coach: Tim Charrington.

2012-09-25 11:28:30

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