And those of you who know the novel / film will also know there’s a very weepy ending.
The musical version starts with Jenny’s funeral: the fact that you know where this particular love story is headed certainly ramps up the emotional element. If you’re not at least blinking back tears by the end (most of the audience were openly crying), I’d suggest you should perhaps be checking your heart is in the right place.
Music and lyrics are supplied by British writing pair Howard Goodall and Stephen Clark. Their pedigree really shines through in some great songs. One in particular, a tribute to the greatness of pasta, is performed while cooking said pasta, live on stage! You can even smell the chopped garlic going into the pan. With lines like “And life is molte bene when your pasta’s cooked with penne!” this clever ditty is sure to raise a smile.
As well as the fantastic tunes, this heartfelt musical is saved from being too sentimental and slushy by some great performances. Emma Williams is wonderful as Jenny; a rounded, sparky, likeable character. Williams also has a fantastic singing voice, which is perfectly matched by Michael Xavier as her lover, Oliver. The contrasts between Jenny’s loveable, Italian, deli-owning dad, played by Peter Polycarpou and Oliver’s stiff, formal father (RSC regular Richard Cordery) are brilliantly drawn.
This domestic musical is a nice change from the bigger, perhaps brasher shows you can see elsewhere in the West End at the moment. But its small, talented cast and simple classy sets make for really enjoyable night out.