The interesting thing about April In Paris is the fact that John Godber wrote the romantic comedy in 1992 for a festival in Hull, but the relevance has never been timelier than now, as the play embarks on a UK tour. Where a generation of less demanding foreign workers have encouraged businesses to recruit differently and has subsequently left some level of redundancy for another generation of home-grown workers in the same field. That is the situation that Al (Joe Mcgann) finds himself in, who lives in a run down, small house in Northern England. Al lives with his wife Bet (Shobna Ghulati), and their relationship has become routine, mundane and unexciting through years and years of personal and financial struggle. So it is no surprise that when Bet find out she has finally won a competition for a romantic trip to Paris, Al’s initial response was to find out “What is the catch?”
Alas, Al was convinced to go and the two began their journey to Paris. And what a journey it is. The concept of Brits abroad was a joy to behold, as these two charming characters from Hull, to The City of Love. From the pronunciation of famous monuments, to their climbing of the Eiffel Tower and their antics riding a French subway late at night, Al and Bet are joyous to watch as they rediscover some long lost, but not long gone, love for one another.
The audience are treated to a very real, very honest and very funny evening, led tremendously by the performance of Shobna Ghulati. There was a great level of excitement whenever we would hear Bet speak. Almost every line coming out was filled with raw wit and humour. It’s worth mentioning that Ghulati’s chemistry with Mcgann is probably the heart of the performance, both deserve an honoured mention. The show isn’t very glamorous and doesn’t claim to be, which works well to allow the audience to follow the writing. I found the mime’s to be somewhat unnecessary as their purpose was just not definitive enough. My main disappointment was ironically the fact that Al and Bet had to return from Paris, which is exactly how they felt too.
April In Paris is another example of Godber’s ability to beautifully exploit the charm of British culture, this time in a European setting. I enjoyed this one just as much as I did Bouncers and Up ‘n’ Under.
Review by Sahil Jon
April In Paris
Al and Bet’s relationship is on the rocks. He recently lost his job, while she works in a shoe shop and can only dream of a better life. But things are about to change… When Bet wins a romantic night in Paris, the city of love, Al wonders who she’ll take with her. Resigned to taking her husband, Paris actually reignites their relationship as never before, but the reality of returning home looms large… This hilarious romantic adventure, featuring John Godber’s unique brand of observational comedy, was nominated Comedy of the Year in the Olivier Awards.