When Harry Met Sally

Nora Ephron, adapted by Marcy Kahan

Theatre Royal Haymarket

(2004)

Review by Philip Fisher

When Harry Met Sally became a cult film almost on its release in 1989. The tale of two New Yorkers who took a dozen years to realise that they loved each other struck an immediate chord with so many people.

Now the parts created by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are brought to the stage by Beverley Hills 90210's heartthrob, Luke Perry and Alyson Hannigan, star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the American Pie movies.

Designer Ultz has gone for his favoured industrial design with minimalist settings in a low, cinematic widescreen. This looks good and maintains the movie feel of the evening, as does a jazzy soundtrack from Ben and Jamie Cullum.

Loveday Ingram's production delivers exactly what one would expect, a romantic comedy translated to the stage, paying faithful tribute to the original. The jokes are generally fairly predictable and the romance schmaltzy but that is what the audience wants. They also react with joyful whoops to the sight of Mr Perry pulling up his shorts and to that final kiss.

The highlight, though it rather surprisingly doesn't bring down the interval curtain, is the legendary scene where Sally fakes an orgasm in the heart of a diner. This brings the house down. Mind you, the anticipation for the big moment had been building up for quite a while.

When Harry Met Sally is a pleasant enough romp which occasionally gets under the skins of the fastidious lady journalist and her rakish lawyer pal. Miss Hannigan provides a sweet, if irritating, Sally while Perry injects Harry with oceans of laid back charm.

Whether the stage needs another import starring big screen names and using a recycled plot is a question that devotees might ask themselves. The audience for this kind of show will be in little doubt that the answer is a resounding yes.