April in Paris Review

“Welcome back”

A triumphant round of applause was the congratulations in order to everyone involved in Reopening Coventry’s local theatre The Belgrade! And that not just goes to the cast and creatives behind April In Paris, that goes to the Front Of House Staff, the Media Team, and the venue staff. Thank you for helping to make the experience as easy and safe as it could possibly be.

And congratulations to the Belgrade on not just reopening the theatre, but their new café as well! To anyone attending a performance there in the future, why not arrive a little earlier for a lovely experience?

As I turn to the show, I’d first like to echo the sentiments of the director and producer Richard, who before the performance started spoke a few words, to paraphrase; “Tonight isn’t just about April in Paris, it’s about retiring to live theatre, and sharing our experience one again”. He’s completely right, to be able to share an auditorium, to share a story, to share laughter with even a less than 40% capacity audience was joyful.

We open on a married couple; Al and Bet played by Joe Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw respectively. Neither of them are particularly happy, stuck at home having a limited social life. When one day Sarah wins a competition! Her prize; a night in Paris! Al, hesitant at first, goes along with Bet to find that he actually has a great time. And when they return, they are happier together and already entering more competitions, together this time. The story is relatively simple, there are no big set pieces, it’s all about the performance…

And what wonderful performances there were. Joe and Sarah allowed time to fly by. It was exactly what the audience needed, a simple, entertaining and rather funny hour of a couple reconnecting after ages spent stuck inside… Sound familiar?

It’s amazing how the pandemic has changed the perspective on how we view stories, suddenly we *all* have an experience to relate to as an audience. Regardless of age, or circumstance. So when characters talk about being stuck inside for months and finally being able to go out, we can all relate. We can all laugh and we can all relate to the characters in front of us a little more. And the production is all the better for it.

As for the social distancing and face mask measures in place, it doesn’t take away from your enjoyment of the performance whatsoever, within five minutes, you’re engrossed in the welcoming performances of Joe and Sarah and you forget that everyone is in a mask, it’s the magic of being back in a theatre again. Magic.


All photos: Mark Senior