Charing Cross Theatre, London – until 31 March 2018
Guest reviewer: Shaun Dicks
‘We come in with nothing, we go out with nothing.’ This may be the truth in life, but not when it concerns Harold and Maude. The home of the show is the Charing Cross Theatre, one of London’s hidden gems. The show is filled with a plethora of joys, including an actor-musician element which gives a movie-like feel.
We follow the story of eccentric characters Harold and Maude; Harold, the young man who acts out multiple suicides, and Maude, the free-spirited and law-bending hippie pensioner. The story tells us of these two quirky characters and their unconventional, blossoming relationship.
The show is full of many joys. To begin with, the story written by Colin Higgins is incredibly well crafted. The script is littered with quotable lines that uplift the soul and the story warms your heart. The direction by Thom Southerland – whose work I have followed for years – is assured and inspired.
With the multiple moving parts and minimal space, Southerland succeeds in maintaining fluidity. Another incredible factor is the actor-musician ensemble, the performers’ multi-rolling and musicianship are outstanding. Mrs Chasen, portrayed by Rebecca Caine, is a particular highlight, her comedic timing and character work is incredible.
Harold played by Bill Milner is very well pitched. The use of dark humour with his character is perfect – giving an Alan Ball type feel – and the evolution of his character is a sight to behold.
The crowning glory of this piece is Sheila Hancock as Maude. Hancock gives a masterclass on how theatre should be done. She is balanced, hilarious, endearing, truthful and tender. Her creation of Maude is so well-rounded and makes you feel all the emotions in the two hours you spend with her.
This is a story of non-conformity, love and life. It portrays a beautiful relationship between a man in the beginnings of adulthood and a woman nearing the end of hers. This show breaks down generational divides and shows the beauty of friendship. The line Maude says, ‘We don’t need to build anymore walls, let’s build more bridges.’, covers this show in a nutshell.
Harold and Maude is so full of happiness and magic. This gem cannot stay hidden, it is too special to stay hidden, it needs the recognition it deserves. In a dreary winter, treat yourself to this ray of light.