April in Paris
Writer/Director John Godber
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until Sat 11 October
Some marriages are made in heaven and some in hell. There are many kinds of hell.
That of Bet (Shobna Gulati) and Al (Joe McGann) is kind of limbo in this ‘refreshed’ John Godber comedy from 1992. Their marriage is built on puerile bickering, seriously stuck in a rut of boredom and banality.
Al is an unemployed builder with an interest in art but becalmed by the banking crisis of 2008. His art sums up his life; monochrome, sketchy and half-finished.
Bet works in a shoe shop with a hatful of dashed dreams and a penchant for magazine competitions.
She wins a weekend in Paris and, very much against the run of play, Al agrees to go.
There is a rider. His bluff Yorkshire narrow view of life will allow only ‘it’s not bad’ by way of praise, while she wants romance.
Their holiday is a journey back to the life they want.
Back in Yorkshire, the denouement sees Al’s art developing to take in the sights of Paris; more colourful, more complete and more accomplished.
He is now doing the competitions for more journeys abroad; he’s set his sights on Mexico while Bet is content to go to Whitby.
I enjoyed the scene shifters, extremely clever French mime artists who won applause of their own.
Music choice was also inspired; from Rod Stewart to Edif Piaf.
The set was also clever in that the main Paris attraction were like children’s drawings, and Bet and Al approach Paris like a couple of children lost in a grown-up city.
By Jane Howard