This Little Life Of Mine

Michael Yale with music by Charlie Round-Turner
Stage Traffic Productions Ltd in association with Park Theatre
Park Theatre (90)

James Robinson and Kate Batter Credit: Charlie Round-Turner
Greg Barnett Credit: Charlie Round-Turner
James Robinson and Caroline Deverill Credit: Charlie Round-Turner

The gentle musical comedy This Little Life of Mine begins with a promising topicality. A young couple in London with good professional jobs are trying to find some accommodation. Jonesy and Izzy settle for a tiny high-rise space they decide to call their "love nest". It’s not ideal but this is modern London where even the well-paid professional has to work hard to get a decent place to live.

Not long after they move in, we realise they are also struggling to have a baby. The problem is that Jonesey (James Robinson) has "slow sperm" and that means they have to seek help.

The difficulties of the central characters are believable enough. James Robinson as Jonesy and particularly Kate Batter as Izzy give solid performances. But what they say is often unimaginative and at times even a little cheesy. They decide to take the flat because it "ticks most of the happy boxes". At one point, Izzy says that she was in a relationship with Jonesy because "a maiden can’t wait forever so I thought any charmer would do".

The other characters in the show are simple stereotypes and, although the comedy scene in a coffee shop with Greg Barnett as the barista / bartender Raphael raised a lot of laughs, it is a caricature that doesn’t fit with the realism of the central plot. Much worse is an unbelievable cartoon episode which isn’t even amusing, in which Izzy and Jonesy are propositioned by two friends who are swingers.

The narrowness of the story has the unfortunate effect of reducing women characters to gender stereotypes. They neatly divide into those only concerned with motherhood and the sexually voracious Tina (Caroline Deverill) who is so busy having sex with as many men as she can find she has no time for anything else in life. Except perhaps to be rude to Raphael, who was probably lucky she didn’t add him to her collection.

All this happens very slowly. You could pop out of the theatre, have a drink, read a book and return to the show having missed nothing of the plot.

The musical numbers are generally pleasant and occasionally, as in Raphael the barista’s song, funny. They are well performed but they do simply repeat the mood or the dialogue we have just seen. They don’t advance the plot and for all their pleasantness they are unmemorable.

A show which might have imaginatively tackled the real lives of people in London ended up being a slight, confused, sentimental comedy that wasn’t particularly funny.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna