Odd Couple Falls Madly In Love In Hello/Goodbye
Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
We’ve all been there — in love — for the first, second, perhaps umpteenth time. And while it’s the messy in-between bits that portend a relationship’s future, Peter Souter’s show Hello/Goodbye takes us on a journey to the two most memorable moments in any relationship: the beginning and the end.
The play follows the lives of Alex (Shaun Evans) and Juliet (Miranda Raison) who meet in the most unlikely of situations: they both move into the same flat on the same day. The estate agents are at fault and as they grapple with their seemingly unsolvable situation (neither is willing or able to go anywhere else) their bickering turns into flirtatious banter with the summer heat only adding to their sweltering sexual tension.
Within 40 impressively short minutes they convincingly move from strangers to lovers, all the while ‘flat battling.’ The humour hits a high when Juliet’s pseudo-boyfriend Luke (played by Luke Neal) arrives to rough up Alex into leaving the flat, only to bond with him and desert her.
The acting is strong and the characters intriguing. Alex is a collector, Juliet a defector. He likes to complete things; she likes to destroy things. He is obsessive and socially inept, yet smart and sensitive too; she is prickly and prone to unfortunate habits including yelling and infidelity.
Once you get used to Juliet’s initial loudness, the mood in the first half is genuinely sweet, but it’s the funnier and more emotionally-gripping second half (including the appearance of Amanda, played by Bathsheba Piepe), that seals the show, bringing it full circle.
While the story doesn’t need or provide a final message, there is a keen sense of these hopelessly-incompatible protagonists coming of age within their relationship. The story is also lightly-infused with common paranoias associated with modern dating: the seemingly untenable ability to succeed in all facets of life at once — career, money, family — and the catastrophic toll trying to achieve all three can take on our partners.
With its punchy, laugh out loud dialogue, fascinating characters and heartfelt ending Hello/Goodbye is a crowd-pleasing show that succeeds in transporting the audience, as close as is possible into the doomed yet madly-in-love psyche of this odd couple.
By Sophia Shluger
Hello/Goodbye runs at Hampstead Theatre until 30 March. Tickets £10-£35. Londonist saw this play on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 29 January 2015