Saturday, 31 January 2015

'Hello/Goodbye' Hampstead Theatre ****

Does the interpretation of the commencement and termination of a ten year relationship work within a two hour performance? The outstanding Off West End venue, the Hampstead Theatre’s current production of Peter Souter’s, ‘Hello/Goodbye’ was a heart-wrenching story that captivates this most strongly, and the performances were passionately phenomenal.

‘Hello/Goodbye’ was first performed at the Hampstead Downstairs in March 2013, which demonstrated to be a mammoth success with audiences. As such this instigated its transfer to the venues’ main house. The play is set immediately after the New Year, where Juliet, a young, intelligent and sassy woman, who has recently become single due to her discrepancies, moves into her new flat. But there is a problem as Alex, a quirky, slightly autistic and collector of unconventional memorabilia is the sole occupant of the flat that Juliet assumes is rightfully hers. On the other hand, there appears to be contractual difficulties from two separate estate agents.  Of course, Juliet finds it weird that Alex collects items such as; metal Pepsi bottle caps, McDonalds Happy Meal toys etc. and ridicules him profusely. Alex, when he learns of Juliet’s unfaithfulness towards her former boyfriend, he teases her at every single opportunity he as, and unmannerly declares that he will be sleeping in the master bedroom as he’s immensely fruitful in bed, as he so believes.  When Alex is introduced to Juliet’s former lover, Luke (Luke Neal), we witness that he is in fact a courteous and kind gentleman, who resents Juliet’s uncouth actions, which Alex is gratified to be informed of as she is a complete liar. Through a magical interval, which is quite possible one of the most riveting act changes one has ever seen, we are transported through the decay of their relationship, where Alex and Juliet have evidently married, and have decorated the flat to a contemporary finish, they are currently going through a divorce.  There appears to be an enormous amount of sadness that are clearly visible; especially with Alex as he feels that he is an utter failure, and what is utmost heart-breaking is that to financially support himself, he has to sell of his collections to auctioneer, Amanda (Bathsheba Piepe), which costs a lot of money. What is apparent here is that the two of them are still in love with one another and as there is a fraught atmosphere there may not be a chance to rekindle their passion for each other. Souter’s narrative is impressive during the whole performance as it’s such an emotional rollercoaster where a blossoming relationship can eradicate over a decade, as well as the traumas of divorce.

One found the performances by the company of ‘Hello/Goodbye’ were beautifully operated within all aspects of the performance, and within all personas of their characters. Shaun Evans is magnificent as the autistic collector, Alex; principally when he reveals to his soon-to-be ex-wife his secretive lair of her unwanted or lost possessions, which enables us to see his passionate side. Miranda Raison is spectacular as Alex’s icy wife, Juliet; specifically when she constantly argues with Alex over his constant lack of attention to her whist they were married and her facial expressions were quite chilling too.

Tamara Harvey’s direction is marvellous here as she has been able to capture how relationships begin and how they can come to an end in the most unfortunate of circumstances, moreover, her attention to detail in encapsulating both sadness and humour was particularly charming too. Lucy Osborne’s design is elegant entirely as one was immediately transmitted to the atmosphere of how love and hate can be presented through opulent fixtures and fittings.  Furthermore, the thrust stage formation works wonders here. Overall, one found the experience of ‘Hello/Goodbye’ was an engrossing play that combines teary and funny moments to flawless effect.  Go and see this production. 

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