Alan Hruska’s new comedy tells the story of Nellie, a professional woman living happily in a small apartment in Manhattan, who feels perfectly at ease in her relationship with an imaginary boyfriend Jack. While Nellie is keen to maintain this state of affairs, her sister Janet and her husband Frank are equally adamant that she should settle down in the suburbs with a real man, preferably their geeky neighbour Leonard.
Amy McAllister, Samuel James and Georgia MacKenzie in The Man on Her Mind at Charing Cross Theatre, London Photo: Sheila Burnett
There are elements of this play that resemble a television pilot episode of a US sitcom but sadly one that would probably never get commissioned. The characters are thinly drawn out, the dialogue desperately un-engaging and despite a spirited opening to Act II there is little to keep an audience in its seats. Beneath the blather there is probably a message about learning to love yourself or accepting the past and moving on but it is hidden almost out of sight behind a bunch of verbose, neurotic, middle-class New Yorkers with relationship issues.
This said, the cast valiantly attempt to bring the play to life and Bruce Guthrie’s broad direction suits the cavernous Charing Cross perfectly. Samuel James, as Jack and Leonard, makes a brave stab at creating some physical comedy but his scenes with Amy McAllister’s Nellie lack electricity. Georgia Mackenzie as Janet and Shane Attwooll as Frank are easily the most interesting couple to watch with Mackenzie spitting out some great asides with just the right amount of venom but it is all too little too late. By far and away the star here is actually Emma Bailey’s set, which, without the aid of electronics, slides from Manhattan modesty to suburban chic with invention and ingenuity.