There’s something special about stepping foot into a theatre after they had to close their doors back in March 2020. There’s certainly a buzz in the air as everyone takes their seats in the newly socially-distanced auditorium. When the Belgrade Theatre’s Executive Director Joanna Reid steps on stage, and you can tell this is a huge moment for the theatre. Joanna thanks the audiences for their support, but most importantly turning up tonight to be part of this momentous occasion.
With Coventry City of Culture opening a few days ago, the Belgrade is at the heart of the arts in the city and it’s so important to have it back open again.
But it isn’t until Producer and Director of the show Richard Lewis starts talking, did I realise I was part of history last night. As April in Paris was the first regional production being staged across the country on the 17th May – Coventry are on the map with their triumphant return to theatre.
It’s the perfect show to reopen with. The intimate two hander tells the story of the life of an ordinary couple as they go on a journey of a lifetime. Al and Bet have been married for twenty six years, their conversations are running dry and the monotony of life is wearing them down. Bet enters a competition in a magazine and wins a trip to Paris in April.
It’s a fitting story for the times after many of us have spent lockdown with our partners and can relate to the irritations and squabbles. After barely being able to leave the house the past few months, their trip to Paris is the escapism we’ve all been craving.
It’s a simple production but executed so brilliantly. Joe Pasquale who plays Al brings his natural humour to the role. His witty remarks and slick comedy timing brings a hilarious yet realistic dynamic to the relationship. Sarah Earnshaw portrays the role of Bet with sharpness and charm, she’s a dreamer who wants to get out of their sleepy town and explore. She loses patience with Al but ultimately has a big heart. The rollercoaster of emotions between them creates a superb comedy as they embark on their travels to Paris via the P&O ferry from Hull.
It’s silly, sweet and uplifting as Joe Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw invite us into Al and Bet’s world for a truly joyous experience.
It’s heartwarming to hear the sound of collective laughter and feel the appreciation of an audience experiencing live theatre once again. April in Paris is the perfect way to dip your toe back into the wonderful world of theatre.
April in Paris is on at the Belgrade Theatre until Wednesday 19th of May.