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Charing Cross Theatre, London

Harold and Maude
4.0Reviewer's Rating

‘Harold and Maude’ is charming stage version of Hal Ashby’s 1971 movie, which gained cult status in later years. The story is about a rich unhappy teenager, Harold (Bill Milner) who has a passion for funerals and an obsession for devising his own suicides. His mother is so used to his suicide attempts that she is completely un – phased by his elaborate decapitations, gunshots and hangings. She decides that a girlfriend is the solution to his problems and she goes on a mission to find one, which of course, ends in disaster.

In the mean time, Harold meets Maude (Sheila Hancock) at a funeral. She is a much older woman who climbs trees, steals cars and liberates seals from zoos in the name of humanity. She is a driving force in Harold’s self – development in that he learns to appreciate life in a completely different way. Maude teaches him to ‘try something new,’ ‘to not be too moral – it cheats you out of life’ and to liberate oneself from rules because ‘the world loves a cage.’ She doesn’t conform to the status quo but rather lives life through a unique sense of morality. She removes a tree from the street despite it being public property. She liberates a seal from a zoo with the intention of releasing it back into the sea. She commits these ‘crimes’ for the greater good of mankind, despite what the law says or what other people might think – she is truly an independent, strong headed person. Harold forms a very close bond with Maude and performs the unthinkable, a proposition that challenges the very core beliefs of society.

The set is designed perfectly, one gets a very surrealist feeling with the blue clouds painted on the ceiling and the bohemian tapestries thrown on the bed. The dynamic structure of the stage also adds a quirkiness and a feeling of a very strange and bizarre world. The use of props equally very interesting, specially the telephone connected to a violin on stage. The tempo of the music works very well in the building of tension between Harold’s mother and father arguing over the phone. The random tap dancing and the peculiar music every now and then is also very entertaining and certainly adds an extra unconventional element to the story.

All in all, if you are in the mood for an unusual, macabre comedy that takes you right to the heart of the imagination, this is the perfect play.

  • Comedy
  • By Hal Ashby
  • Director : Thom Southerland
  • Cast: Anthony Cable, Anne White, Bill Millner, Christopher Dickens, Johnson Willis, Joanna Hickman, Samuel Townsend, Rebecca Caine, Sheilla Hancock
  • Charing Cross Theatre, London
  • Until 31 March 2018

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