Doris Day once sang a really nice song called April in Paris. When I saw that a play of that name was coming to the Theatre Royal, Brighton, I thought it might have been all about Doris Day. But it wasn’t.
Instead John Godber’s April in Paris is about a married couple – Al and Bet (if you put the names together it almost sounds like Albert, which is a bit French-sounding, so is very appropriate) who don’t really get on.
Joe McGann (most famous for being one of the famous McGann brothers, but I can’t remember which one – I know one was in Emmerdale and one is John Lennon) is the husband. He is retired from a job he quite liked and fancies himself as a painter, so when he goes to Paris he likes seeing the Mona Lisa in the famous Parisian art gallery the Louvre. I once bought a postcard of the Mona Lisa, but in London, as I have never been to Paris.
He is married to his wife, played by Shobna Gulati, who isn’t really very good, because she used to appear in Corrie. They are not really married, only in the play, which demonstrates their professionalism. If I were married to her I would probably push her under a bus because she moans all the time and reads black and white copies of colour magazines. She also enters lots of competitions, including one which sounded very familiar and I think I might have entered it so I hope she doesn’t win it.
When I was in my seat I saw that the writer was John Godber, and the director was also John Godber, which is a real coincidence. I wonder if they are related?
The first bit was on a grey set with clouds. In the second half they had obviously found out how to raise the curtain because most of the scenery behind it was in colour. One thing I did like about the design was the fact that the characters kept changing their clothes, which made it very realistic. But what wasn’t realistic was that they kept on talking to the audience and I wasn’t sure if we should be answering back.
There was one funny moment when all the lights on the different bits of scenery came on, obviously WAY too early! But the actors carried on, which shows how professional they really are. It wasn’t as exciting as lights going OFF unexpectedly, which is what happened when I went to see Black Coffee at Eastbourne, which was written by Agatha Christie and starred Robert Powell (who played Jesus on TV). On that occasion they were forced to stop the performance and we all had to go home, which meant I was able to catch an earlier bus, but that didn’t happen at Brighton when the lights came on at the wrong time.
I think John Godber missed a trick here. He called the play April in Paris, but it isn’t April, so they could just have changed the month to whatever month it actually is, which would have made it far more realistic.