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Hello Again review at Union Theatre, London – ‘disappointingly tame staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s musical’

The cast of Hello Again at the Union Theatre, London. Photo: Mark Senior

Sex is rarely nailed well on stage. There’s the full gamut of fully-clothed bums awkwardly reared in the air and mimed trouser-refastening to drive that point home in Paul Callen’s production of Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again.

The show, a modern interpretation of Arthur Schnitzler’s seminal La Ronde, consists of 10 vignettes. It zips back and forth through the 20th century to pull back the covers on pre and post-coital couples of varying class, sexuality and age.

There are some interesting narrative strands – particularly that of the smitten college boy who suffers from performance anxiety – but the bulk of the material feels stuffily overfamiliar and packed with characters that the audience will have met countless times before. The spread of unsatisfied couples nudges it into Sondheim territory, but there are no cutting one-liners or camp fun to be had here.

A three-piece band lend a jazzy edge to the catchy musical numbers and the cast members are all highly competent singers, especially Alice Ellen Wright, with her operatic voice.

It’s a shame, then, that we don’t see much of them. It may be a show about the intimacy between couples, but it repeatedly wastes opportunities to put more people on the stage. After all, how often do you have a cast of 10 in a theatre this small?

Obviously not every musical has to be subversive, but with its intensely lustful subject matter, it’s a pity this production is so limp.

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Verdict
Disappointingly tame staging of Michael John LaChiusa’s raunchy musical 
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