hello/goodbye, by Peter Souter

Tuesday 19th - Saturday 23rd February

hello goodbye web image.jpg

I first encountered this play a few years back when it was produced by a West Sussex amateur theatre company and I was immediately taken with it. I quickly read the play and marked it down as a “must do” in the future. Luckily for me, The Little decided to include the play in our current season.

The play takes a very twenty-first century look at love, life and sexual relationships, where many sexual encounters are relatively brief, and many relationships do not stand the test of time.

The play centres on two main characters Juliet and Alex. Juliet is a character marked by an unhappy childhood, in part caused by the break-up of her parents’ marriage, but also because of the early death of her mother. The result is that Juliet has no real moral compass, she treats sex as a matter of course, and finds difficulty in establishing strong bonds with another person. As the play unfolds, we learn that deep down what she wants and needs is love and the stability of a family, a centre to her life.

We learn less about Alex’s early life, but by his own admission he is obsessed with order and obsessively collects artefacts which he labels, alphabetises and, preferably, laminates. We also learn that he is “good at sex”, and although this is never made explicit, we feel that he too lacks a central relationship in his life and has probably experienced a series of relationships which have never worked out. He has difficulty in expressing his emotions, and this, potentially, is the fatal flaw in the relationship.

On the face of it these two would not make a good partnership, and they have to struggle through misunderstandings, accusations, and bitter disappointment to reach some kind of resolution. 

Into this mix drifts Leo, an erstwhile boyfriend, who comes across as a solid decent person – just the kind of person Juliet needs perhaps? Into the second act comes Amanda an attractive, smartly dressed career woman with an obvious yen for Leo, which Juliet quickly detects, and which does not bring out her best side.

All this sounds like pretty heavy stuff, but it is a sparkling comedy with many twists and turns. It will make you laugh out loud, but it will also tear you up as you are desperate for these two to resolve their differences, because despite their obvious human failings and frailties you can’t help loving them both and identifying with them.

As a director’s note, I have thoroughly enjoyed the rehearsal process. The cast spent a long time discussing and analysing their characters, working out what is going on underneath the surface, and how best to make this accessible to the audience. I thoroughly commend this play to you and hope that you enjoy watching it as much as we did rehearsing it.

Harry Atkinson