I might as well confess it at once. I’m the last person left in the western hemisphere who hasn’t seen the film When Harry Met Sally but I have seen enough comic compilations in my time to know that the fake orgasm scene did more for the American diner than Ronald Macdonald and Colonel Sanders finger-lickin’ favourites rolled into one.
It’s a romcom of course, and this production featuring a wonderfully filleted version by adaptor Marcy Kahan of Norah Ephron’s diamond-hard script cleverly makes it a live sitcom in the style of Friends or Sex and the City complete with jump-cuts and jazz links courtesy of our own Ben and Jamie Cullum.
This is romance New York style and the slick minimalist set matches the streamlined trajectories of the core characters who are young, heterosexual and with body clocks ticking faster than a Geiger counter near radium, their reproductive agendas flashing before their very eyes in the city that never sleeps. Dating is all.
Harry first meets Sally as her decorator – no, not the Big Apple precious kind, the messy laddish type who paints your walls. There’s an immediate frisson. He tracks everything that moves while she is – romantic. Later he gets all professional (these people are serious metropolitan operators) but despite their obvious matchability neither of these two eligible new Yorkers somehow manages to find true love with anyone else. You already know why. The romantic ending is gloriously inevitable, but deservedly well-won.
Sarah Jayne Dunn (Hollyoaks) as Sally is faultless as the wistful sub-Carrie Bradshaw professional girl, well-mannered, well-educated and with old-fashioned views about love but a refreshingly modern way of getting on with the harsh business of New York life.
Rupert Hill (Coronation Street) as Harry has the right Brooklyn accent and swagger to make him a challenging bit of rough in the first half but seems less happy as the more grown-up careerist of the second.
Luke Rutherford and Kosha Engler stood out as the couples’ alter-egos who have less trouble finding true love, while Callum McArdle and Annabelle Brown in a host of supporting roles are obviously set for great future careers.
As Tim McQuillen-Wright’s minimalist set metamorphoses cleverly into a whole slew of indoor and outdoor locations evoking the elusive glamour of one of the most competitive but romantic cities on earth the Garrick finds itself hosting a stylish and sophisticated play guaranteed to please audiences who like their entertainment just that little bit more grown up.
The production runs until March 27. For tickets phone the box office on 01543 412121 or book online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com.