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Review: April in Paris at Derby Theatre

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 03, 2014

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Review: April in Paris, Derby Theatre

BOGART and Bergman in Casablanca may always have Paris, but John Godber’s Al and Bet might also make an eternal claim on the city of romance.

Because 22 years after it was first written, April in Paris seems just as fresh and appealing and could prove to be as timeless as that 1940s movie.

Godber himself is at the helm of this Derby Theatre production, returning to the city he made his own with a string of massive hits in the 1990s.

He’s slightly tweaked the play, which he originally penned for himself and his wife to star in, updating one or two of the references and tailoring it for the current cast - Shobna Gulati and Joe McGann.

But the original concept, of a couple with narrow lives whose horizons are expanded and their romance rekindled after they win a trip to France, still works wonderfully well.

The production is also beautifully staged, with the first half largely spent on the decking outside the couple’s home as the clouds (and world) rolls by.

The stage then opens up after the break with an Amelie-esque view of Paris as Al and Bet suddenly see the world in all its colours and their lives in broader terms.

Gulati and McGann are a delight. Her disco dancing around her handbag on the ferry to France is a hoot; his discovery that the world has so much to offer, and that he has barely scratched the surface, strikes poignantly home.

As Al and Bet fall in love with Paris, you will fall in love with them.

As it’s Godber, it’s also often very funny, but more importantly it rings true. Every couple watching will see at least something of themselves reflected through Al and Bet.

April in Paris can be seen at Derby Theatre until July 12. Go to www.derbytheatre.co.uk

Nigel Powlson

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