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Sally and Harry

The 80s movie with that restaurant scene comes to the Alex this week (until Saturday). Terry Wills tucks in.

Back in 1989 a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal hit the big screen to critical acclaim, with one scene in particular being shown time and again on TV programmes dedicated to reviewing popular clips of Hollywood's favourite films.

Now it's adapted to a stage production in the belief that the movie's reputation will encourage those that enjoyed the movie first time around will pay a visit to their local theatre, with the added attraction that the leading roles are played by television 'soap' characters.

That's 'When Harry Met Sally', and judged on the audience reaction on the opening night the decision will be deemed a success.

Sally is a liberated woman fresh out of college. Harry a smooth talking young lawyer. He arrives at her New York flat to undertake a decorating job and in the process, after making a couple of unsuccessful passes towards her, he leaves - but not before the duo realise there is a mutual simmering attraction between them.

They continue to meet casually on and off, and despite neither actually being brave enough to admit their true feelings for each other they openly discuss their respective relationships between themselves and their respective admirers.

The story moves on to span a 12 year period that sees both enjoying numerous relationships, but always at the back of their minds both are unwilling to admit to themselves, and each other, that their 'friendship' was an unspoken true love.

They debate their feeling in a crowded restaurant, Harry putting his point of view that having sex is the ultimate passion that a girl cannot hide while Sally counters that women can very successfully fake an orgasm if she so desires!

A disbelieving Harry counters her argument leading to the classic iconic scene that left a film audience, and now stage audiences, laughing out of loud.

Enjoying a restuarant meal Sally suddenly lapses back into her seat, screeching and displaying pleasure that leaves little to the imagination. The woman sitting on the next table, when asked by a waiter "What can I get you madam', replies "I'll have whatever she's having!"

The friendship continues, until at long last Harry and Sally give in to their feelings. Harry suitably mortified feels he's made a mistake and leaves leaving Sally totally confused as to her true feelings.

How does the story end? No real surprises, especially as the occassional background music turns out to be "It has too be you".

Harry is portrayed by Rupert Hill, whose TV credits include Coronation Street's Jamie Baldwin, while Sarah Jayne Dunn, probably best known for her role as Mandy in 'Hollyoaks', is Sally.

It's an enjoyable, if short play, that went down well although it has to be said that the set designer didn't exactly splash the cash with his basic lay out.

But then as it's more or less a series of scenes set in an apartment, and a restaurant, incorporating witty dialogue, it could be argued that this is all that's needed for a touring stage production.

Sharp, witty dialogue abounds resulting in an enjoyable night out at the theatre.



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