I’d intended to see Hello/Goodbye during its original run at the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs and so was thrilled to get a second chance today during its current run on the venue’s Main Stage.
Written by Peter Souter, it’s a lovely, funny, tender and heartfelt play. Juliet (Miranda Raison) arrives at her new flat, only to discover Alex (Shaun Evans) already moving in! He also has keys and a contract for the flat whether she likes it or not (and she really doesn’t)! From that moment we watch their initial conversation, as the banter and sparks fly. Although there are brief scenes with two other characters, this is mainly a two-hander between Juliet and Alex and with such brilliantly sharp dialogue, it never drags.
Juliet is highly strung and used to getting everything her own way, which is the perfect counter to Alex’s more relaxed attitude and dry humour, as he has a sharp, witty comeback for every moment. As the play continues we see how their relationship develops, as the play becomes a touching story about the love between two people and how it changes, or how we think it’s changed when perhaps nothing has changed at all.
Miranda Raison is very good as Juliet, who drives the audience as mad as Alex with her attitude, especially early on and Shaun Evans is superb as Alex, the geeky collector of all manner of crazy items, who is perfectly happy with who he is and has a confidence about him that Juliet cannot fail but be attracted to. They are a perfect duo, wonderfully directed by Tamara Harvey, sparking off each other with chemistry that feels very believable and real and as an audience you are rooting for them to find a happiness together (as let’s face it we all deep down want to get that happy ending).
Leo Starr stood in today for Luke Neal as Juliet’s boyfriend, who she demands get rid of this person in her new flat and he and Shaun Evans’s scene together was a lot of fun. Bathsheba Piepe was also very good too (I daren’t say too much about her role for risk of giving anything away).
The set is simple, but works well for the play and doesn’t distract from the two key characters and top marks for the props organiser, in particular for the time and effort that’s gone in to compiling Alex’s collection! I also loved the final song that plays, which is an original composition by Jared Zeus called A Room Made Up For You.
I thoroughly enjoyed Hello/Goodbye and there’s a good chance I’ll return for a second trip before the run ends. It’s a charming love story, with some lovely heartfelt moments, which is also filled with sharp and witty moments that will make you laugh. It’s the perfect production to warm the heart during winter and if you have time to book a ticket then make sure you do.
Hello/Goodbye runs at the Hampstead Theatre (Main Stage) until 28th February. For more information and ticket availability see the theatre’s website.