Review: April in Paris, Durham Gala Theatre

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A HUSBAND who feels inadequate after losing his job and a wife whose desire for something more amounts to buying the odd cheap scarf and entering competitions in women’s magazines.

April in Paris takes you to the heart of an ordinary working class marriage that is given a much-needed shake-up by a prize trip to Paris.

Unsurprisingly, the trip doesn’t fulfil their suave, idyllic image of the city and instead we see the couple struggling to choose between steak pie or curry on board their P&O ferry, attempting their own brands of Yorkshire-tinged French and, all the while, trying their best not to get mugged on the Métro.

The down-to-earth humour of this play comes thick and fast and its distinct Northern charm and endearing lead couple make for a heartening watch.

Robert Angell gives a touching performance as the world-weary Al, who, despite his endless cynicism, admits he is lost without his wife by his side. Alongside Wendi Peters as discontented wife Bet, the two share an excellent dynamic which provides some wonderfully funny moments and makes for a spot-on view of a long-term marriage. Yet underneath the couple’s bickering and set-in-their-ways routines lie deeper issues such as class boundaries and dissatisfaction which are lightly, yet effectively, touched upon.

Poignant in its accuracy, April in Paris provides a consistent chuckle that for the most part succeeds in making light of its characters’ unfulfilled lives. In this sense, April in Paris is somewhat like watching an episode of The Royle Family; one feels frustration at the characters’ inertia but is slowly charmed by the moments of affection that manage to break through the monotony.

And while they may no longer have Paris, we are comforted in knowing that Al and Bet have each other and will remain happily bickering in Hull – unti,l that is, they win Bella’s next trip.