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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Little Black Book
Park Theatre  Winter 2013-2014

The big problem for writers of romantic comedies is finding a way for the boy and girl to meet cute – after that, it's all formula. 

Jean-Claude Carrière just bypasses the obstacle, as a man leaves his flat door open and a girl walks in and refuses to leave. As she invents excuses to stay on another few minutes, or a couple of hours, or overnight, he goes through the predictable stages of confusion, annoyance, outrage and falling under her spell and in love. 

But Carrière muddies the waters by confusing his own conventions and by some half-hearted attempts to weigh her refusal to be bound by convention, morality, consideration or even simple facts with philosophical significance that just won't connect. And director Kate Fahy and her actors muddy it even further with some misguided characterising choices. 

Consider this. Boy-meets-free-spirited-girl only works if he is a tightly-wound repressed type and she loosens him up or he is a roué and she tames him. Carrière wants it both ways. His hero is a suit-and-tie lawyer who doesn't enjoy his work and probably needs some loosening up, but he is also a ladies' man with more than a hundred names in his little black book, and actor Gerald Kyd is too obviously not sure just who he is and how to play him. 

Meanwhile the invading, seriously interfering girl will only work if she is irresistibly sweet and innocent, irresistibly cute or irresistibly kookie. Given those choices, director Fahy and actress Jenny Rainsford have opted instead to go with devious, manipulative and very probably barking mad, so that it honestly would not be out of character for her to pull out a knife in the final scene and kill him. 

It's hard for a rom-com to weave its spell when you cannot see anything for him to be attracted to or any chemistry between them and only want to shout at him to throw her out or run for his life.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Little Black Book - Park Theatre  2013

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