Review: James McAvoy is certifiably good in The Ruling Class, Trafalgar Studios
Review: Tom Stoppard's new one, The Hard Problem, Dorfman Theatre

Review: The ins and outs of love - Hello/Goodbye, Hampstead Theatre

Miranda Raison and Shaun Evans in Hello/Goodbye, Hampstead Theatre

Juliet (Miranda Raison) is moving into her new flat only to discover there's been a bit of a mix up and a man, Alex (Shaun Evans), is already there, unpacking his own belongings. This is the set up of Peter Souter's relationship 'dramedy' which has graduated from the Hampstead's studio space into the main theatre.

For Juliet the flat is supposed to be a fresh start after a disastrous (in more ways than one) relationship. She's ambitious, a little bit narcissistic, a little bit rude and a little bit self-centred in fact to start with she comes across as a bit of a bitch.

Alex on the other hand is presented as intelligent and witty but with a nerdy obsession with collecting things - McDonald's Happy Meal toys, coke bottle lids etc. A verbal sparring becomes something more. Juliet starts to flirt and Alex resists which makes her flirt all the more until the inevitable happens.

The second half fast forwards 10 years to see what happened to the two of them.

As relationship dramas go, its refreshing to see something contemporary and well written and it is well performed. Shaun Evans' Alex is one of those characters that oozes charm without even realising while Miranda Raison's Juliet is all front to hide insecurities.

However, I think Hello/Goodbye really works if you believe that Juliet and Alex would get together and I'm not entirely convinced they would. For me Juliet is just a little too bitchy and I felt Alex was too nice for her. Juliet is a woman who uses her sexuality as a weapon and perhaps I wanted Alex to dodge the bullet just to see how she'd react. But that's not what happens, that's a different play.

The second half analyses their relationship - the title gives a big clue - and again I'm not entirely convinced by the arguments. There are some nice observations and again some nice verbal sparring but knowing how their relationship started and with their personalities picked over I couldn't quite reconcile the ending.

Hello/Goodbye is entertaining enough and enjoyable enough but at the same time not wholly satisfying mainly because it didn't go where I wanted it to. Perhaps it's a case of 'it's not you, it's me' which is ironic given the subject matter.

With a running time of 1 hour 55 minutes including an interval you can catch Hello/Goodbye at the Hampstead Theatre until 28 February.

Three plays I've really enjoyed recently:

The Ruling Class, Trafalgar Studios

Liz And Dick Show, Old Red Lion

The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre


Miranda Raison has two connections. Firstly she was in Merlin so there is the Colin Morgan/Mojo connection and secondly she was in River at the Royal Court so there is a Dominic West/The Hour connection.