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April In Paris - The Little Theatre Review

Reviewed by Emma Bamford
Tickets were gifted in return for an honest review

This is the story of Al and Bet, stuck in a stale marriage. Things change when Bet wins a competition in a magazine for a romantic getaway to Paris ….

Steve Feeney and Kat Seddon. Photo by Mary Jayne Harding Scott

The play takes place over a numbers of locations; Paris (obviously, including Notre Dame and the Louvre), the overnight ferry from Hull and Al and Bet’s house. Having a full set for each of these locations would be a nightmare, so designer Jake Smart has kept it simple; plain white walls and not much in the way of furniture apart from a bunch of chairs and some suitcases. As the play progresses, the actors (there are only two!) move the props around and pull items from the cases to represent where we are at any one time – a red and white checked tablecloth for a French café, a small lamp for some household décor. The cases and chairs are fashioned into a sofa, a bed, a boat and, remarkably, the viewing platform of the Eiffel Tower. The set lends itself to mirroring Al and Bet’s marriage; there’s nothing there of any colour. Both characters are trudging through life, frustrated with it and with each other. The white walls do have some panelling, with hooks sporadically placed to hang items on. Al is a frustrated artist, a theme that is mentioned multiple times throughout the play, and this design is nicely used when we get to the Louvre. A small painting of the Mona Lisa is hung on the back wall and displayed in a spotlight, just across from one of Al’s paintings from the start of the play.

Despite the simplicity of the set, the play itself isn’t simple by any means. The wordy script is deftly handled by Kat Seddon (Bet) and Steve Feeney (Al), veering from outright hostility to rediscovering an appreciation for each other. Director Leigh White mentions in the programme that neither actor knew each other at the initial audition, but he has directed them well. The chemistry at times is palpable, and you could easily believe that these two have been married for years.
Seddon’s Bet is a strong-willed woman, who obviously still loves her husband despite occasionally plotting his murder. 

The play, as with most of Godber’s works, occasionally breaks the fourth wall with characters talking to the audience. Seddon seems to take great delight in this – who among us would not complain at having to clean the scum after their husband has taken a bath?! She is, by turns, hilarious and heartbreaking.

It’s hard to pick a favourite in a two-person play, but Bet *just* edged out Al for me. This isn’t to say that Feeney did anything wrong; his Al is convincingly useless (bear with me!), needing his wife to make most of the decisions throughout the play. But he shows real heart in the more romantic moments, and you can see why Bet is still with him. His painting at the end was actually quite moving.

Steve Feeney and Kat Seddon. Photo by Mary Jayne Harding Scott

Most of the things I found fault with in this production were with the play itself. Some scenes drag (mostly the scenes set at Al and Bet’s home, the final scene in particular). The play runs at 105 minutes and could easily have some scenes cut to make it snappier. You do spend the beginning of the play wondering why Al and Bet don’t just divorce. This is more than just marital grumbles, this is open hatred. The play is a little one-note in places, but picks up massively in act two. 

There was a directorial choice (I think) to update the script a little; the characters mention Netflix, and get an audience member to take a touristy photo of them on a phone. Sometimes this jars a little; the characters rely on a guidebook and paper map to get around Paris but surely everyone would be using their phones now? It really doesn’t ruin anything, though. The ending has some lovely little touches included, almost closing credits, which I won’t spoil here – November in New York, anyone?!

The overall message of the play – summed up by one of the characters – is that you have to go away to see what you’ve got. Godber is outstanding at shining a spotlight on British culture, this time in a European setting. The whole production takes you out of a January in Leicester, counting the days before payday, and drops you bang in the middle of a whistlestop tour of the most romantic city on Earth … apart from Al’s experience with a hole-in-the-ground toilet, of course.

If you haven’t booked your ticket yet, please do! This is a perfect start to 2024. Congratulations and good luck to everyone involved for the week! 
Au revoir!


April In Paris runs at The Little Theatre until Saturday 27th January 2024. Tickets are available from

Steve Feeney and Kat Seddon. Photo by Mary Jayne Harding Scott

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