Theatre review: The Goodbye Girl at Upstairs at the Gatehouse

the goodbye girl

the goodbye girl - Credit: Archant

This initially unsuccessful adaptation of the classic 1971 film has been revived at the Gatehouse to much success, finds Aline Waites.

The Goodbye Girl is pehraps remembered for Richard Dreyfuss’ Oscar winning turn in the 1977 movie.

Now an unsuccessful gem of musical theatre based on the film has been revived Upstairs at the Gatehouse, reprising the familiar but flimsy tale of two strangers forced by circumstances to share an apartment – an unhappy arrangement we know in a rom-com will lead to love.

When unemployed single mum Paula’s New York apartment is sub-let to a neurotic actor by her heel of an ex-boyfriend they agree to an uneasy cohabitation.

As Paula (Rebecca Bainbridge) tries to get back into shape as a dancer and Elliott (Paul Keating) rehearses an off-Broadway production of Richard III in which his director wants the monarch to be gay, this odd couple begin to fall for each other.

Part of the problem here is the disappointment that Neil Simon’s book – adapted from the film script - doesn’t feature his usual witty dialogue. There are a few typical Simon lines and satirical humour aimed at the world of theatre and film but ultimately the show is saved by some hugely funny production numbers of Marvin Hamlisch and David Zippel’s tuneful songs.

As Paula the out of condition dancer always saying Goodbye to a succession of lovers, Bainbridge – with the comic talent of a young Shirley MacLaine - has wonderful opportunities to shine in ‘One Beat Behind’.

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And Keating’s egocentric Elliot gives a wonderfully weird performance as Richard III to ridiculous and disastrous effect. With an unusually mellifluous voice he shares a great rapport with Bainbridge and both have the required charm and charisma to make us care what happens to them.

The hardworking versatile ensemble help things along with a particularly lovely solo item from Denise Pitter as the landlady of the apartment building.

Despite the flimsy plot and disaster of previous productions The Goodbye Girl turns out to be an enchanting musical in the intimate atmosphere of the Gatehouse.

Until February 28.

Rating: 4/5