When Harry met Barry, Above the Stag

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The name of Above the Stag’s latest musical is designed, of course, to remind one of Rob Reiner’s famed romantic comedy film, When Harry Met Sally (while hopefully not evoking too much of the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s stage adaptation).

Like the film it’s trying to evoke, this is a romantic comedy – but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. For a start, the title is misleading: the meeting between the two titular characters is in fact a reunion, the two men once having been schoolfriends who fooled around with each other.

Barry (Craig Rhys Barlow) is now a successful TV chef who forms a relationship with over-the-top scene queen Spencer (an adorably likeable performance from Aiden Crawford), while Harry (Wesley Dow) gets involved with bookshop girl Alice (lightly delivered by Holly Julier, the best performance of the evening).

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When Harry met Barry, Above the Stag3Scott Matthewman2011-07-27 12:31:46The name of Above the Stag’s latest musical is designed, of course, to remind one of Rob Reiner’s famed romantic comedy film, When Harry Met Sally (wh…

Sugar Snap, Union Theatre

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Promoted as a play to recognise the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Alex Cooke’s new work manages to shoehorn in many cliches of gay theatre without ever really rising above them.

The generally weak cast frequently stumble over lines in a manner that suggests neither hesitancy nor infirmity on the part of the characters, but under-rehearsal or lack of confidence. This often renders character dynamics painful to endure, especially between photographer Frazer (David McGillivray) and his ageing war veteran father (Donald Elliott).

The notable exception is Alec Parkinson who, as the young man that reminds Frazer of his long-departed unrequited love, is in a different league to the rest of the cast. That they visibly improve when he is on stage is a measure of his ability.

The script does occasionally display elements of wit and well-observed comedy, but for every good piece of dialogue there are several that seem trite. One cannot help feeling that the advice Frazer gives to his young student – to help improve his art, he needs to focus and be confident in his artistic decisions – is a lesson that this production needs to apply to itself.

Sugar Snap, Union Theatre1Scott Matthewman2011-07-27 13:43:44Promoted as a play to recognise the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Alex Cooke’s new work manages to shoehorn in many cl…