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28 October 2014

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First night - 24.02.04
When Harry Met Sally
Doing what's promised on the menu...Alyson Hannigan and Luke Perry

The movie that brought fake orgasms to the big screen is getting the West End treatment. Our critic Mark Shenton finds himself preferring to stay home...


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When Harry Met Sally is at the Haymarket Theatre
Royal, Haymarket SW1
Tickets £12 - £40
Until 29 May
Box office: 0870 901 3356



When Harry Met Sally (Haymarket Theatre Royal)

When did the theatre give up being theatrical?

The thought stole over me while watching this latest lame, tame and entirely pointless film-to-stage adaptation.

"This film-to-play adaptation simply re-runs the same plot with diminishing returns - like a pale photocopy on which the toner is running dry..."

Not only might we just as well have stayed at home and seen it on video (and saved a lot of money), but we were already, in a sense, doing exactly that - watching an inferior re-make version for television.

Gently nudging its original time-frame a little forward to make its 12-year friendship-to-consummation journey between the eponymous couple end on Millennium Eve, it employs recognisable faces - if not exactly star names - in Beverley Hills 90210’s Luke Perry and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Alyson Hannigan.

It's even staged here, by director Loveday Ingram and designer Ultz, in a 'letterbox' edition that, rather like watching a film on television framed by black space on either side of it, truncates the action into neat, cinematic windows that have the bizarre effect of mostly cutting off the actors at the knees.


While film-to-musical translations usually add an extra dimension, namely songs, to the mix, this film-to-play adaptation simply re-runs the same plot with diminishing returns.

Former Beverley Hills 90210 star Luke PerryIt's exactly what's promised on the menu but - unlike the customer in the diner who, in a recreation of the movie's most famous scene, hears Sally's fake orgasm in the adjoining booth and declares "I'll have what she’s having!" - I'd rather eat elsewhere.

The fact that the customer is a gay man, not a woman as in the film, is as pointless as it is arbitrary.

Like the rest of the production, it doesn't cast a new light on the story so much as succeed only in being a pale photocopy on which the toner is running dry.

The only fresh thing about any of it is the musical interludes from Brit jazz sensation Jamie Cullum and his brother Ben.

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