Nothing to see here, move along.

Gosh, this was tedious.  I’d have left before the interval if it hadn’t involved crossing the stage and I didn’t want anyone to think I might be ‘in’ it.

There are plenty of good reasons The Goodbye Girl isn’t often revived – it’s made largely from the musical scraps Marvin Hamlisch didn’t use in A Chorus Line, and when his close collaborator Ed Kleban died in 1987 he turned to David Zippel who just wasn’t the same class of Pulitzer-winning lyricist so there isn’t a memorable or a take-away song in the whole show.

Even with a $10 million advance on the strength of Bernadette Peters’ name it was pulled after only 188 performances on Broadway, and without the sharpness of Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason who played the leads in the un-musical movie, the characters of actors Paula (Rebecca Bainbridge) and Elliott (Paul Keating) lumped together in an odd-couple flatshare by some scam of Paula’s ex are not so much amusing as punchable.  Throwing in a cutesy ten year old daughter played by someone who looks much older also makes for a hideous combination of mawkishness and precocious puberty.


The direction (Adam Lenson) and choreography (Claira Vaughan) are rank amateur – look at the cast photo it’s like something out of The Art of Coarse Acting – and there’s nothing to recommend in the supporting ensemble apart from noting that recently ex-Arts Ed Alex Green is a better dancer than any of the principals.

The one composite set is as flat as the acting, and apart from when Paul Keating camps it up as the man-playing-a-woman-playing-a-man Richard III in a technique copied directly from Dreyfuss, there really were few laughs.

The sound is appalling, even from five feet away you can’t make out what they’re saying or, with the grotesque reverb on the radio mikes, singing either.  No sound designer is credited, possibly out of shame.

Something else made me uncomfortable.

The Gatehouse has always a been popular venue for lovely older North London Jewish ladies who this time of year like to don their last good fur coat and flash the Freedom Pass to pop down from Golders Green for a cosy and familiar musical revival of something that is both cheaper and less challenging than Hampstead. They’re charming and gregarious and great to chat to in the interval, and any one of them is funnier than Maureen Lipman. But this isn’t a show done by Ovation, the resident Plews family production company at the Gatehouse, and the programme’s full of Israeli fundraising concerts and a full page advert for the World Zionist Foundation which stole land from Palestinians that even the Government of Israel condemned.

Not so cosy any more.