The Goodbye Girl – Upstairs at the Gatehouse

goodbye-630x310Life isn’t fair. As a young girl I believed that I’d grow up, get married and have children. Simple, expected and so straightforward. But that is not the case. Life never pans out the way you expect and the so-called nuclear family no longer exists. But this doesn’t matter.

Based on the 1977 film, The Goodbye Girl tells the story of Paula (Rebecca Bainbridge) who – like many of us – is unlucky in love. She and her daughter Lucy (Olivia Hallam) have been bounced around by men who just don’t care enough to commit. Paula has just been left heartbroken by yet another useless man, but is ready to sort her life out. Cue Elliot (Paul Keating) who turns up at the flat because Paula’s ex has sublet it to him.

After a bit of a standoff the pair agree to live together, intending to avoid each other as much as possible. What could possibly happen here?

Yes, the story is predictable but it’s actually quite lovely. The chemistry between Bainbridge, Keating and Hallam is delightful and you really believe that they are a family. All three are strong singers and actors – young Olivia is definitely one to watch – and Bainbridge and Keating own the show in their scenes together.

Footsteps, sung by Hallam and Bainbridge is fun but poignant and when Elliot sings I Think I Can Play This Part to Lucy the emotion in his voice is clear. It’s not quite a tear jerker, but it’s pretty close and surprisingly heartfelt – after all, every girl deserves a daddy!

Yet Keating is also a great comic actor – his attempt to play Richard III as a man, playing a woman, playing a man is hilarious, yet (costume and concept aside) it actually works and Richard comes across as a deranged, insecure man.

Bainbridge flies the flag for women everywhere – she is desperate, determined and maternal all at once

The stage area is a little bit too small for a show which has all the choreographic potential to be a showstopper, but director Adam Lenson and choreographer Claira Vaughan have done an impressive job, even incorporating a live band which gives additional depth to the production.

Marvin Hamlisch’s music is very much like A Chorus Line (meets Annie), particularly A Beat Behind, although there is more humour in David Zippel’s lyrics. The (not very) discreet references to are a bit cringeworthy and the dancing not perfect, but those aside this musical is charming and the strength of the cast make this production a delight to watch.

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes

The Goodbye Girl is playing Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 28 February 2015. Click here for tickets.