Promises Promises

22 Jan




Promises promises takes us back to the pre Beatles fifties.

It is a musical version of The Apartment – a film which is embedded in one’s very soul if you are old enough to remember those bad old days.  Neil Simon wrote the original script along with Billy Wilder and the frightening thing about it is that it was based on real life Hollywood events.. It is a nasty story and it was a cause celebre at the time.


It is strange to see Daisy Maynard as the victimised waitress Fran as an almost carbon copy of Shirley MacLaine. – I found this sort of worrying. I would rather she had been a bit different.  Gabriel Vick is I think is too attractive in the Jack Lemon Role. But it is an impossible task to follow that great actor. Nevertheless, Vick has a great talent especially in his soliloquies to the audience.

It is basically a story of two victims. Chuck is in the corporate section of an insurance company and is longing to become an executive. He is willing to let out his apartment to his senior colleagues in exchange for their promises to get him a seat in the Directors’ Dining Room .

Fran is the little waitress he fancies but who is in love with Mr Sheldrake the big boss who has promised to divorce his wife for her. A promise he has made to practically every other girl in the company.  He is a born philanderer, high up in the corporate ladder and he is played by Paul Robinson who is stunningly good looking and with a great singing voice.


I think one of the most impressive things about this production is the set by director Bronagh Lagan. who has done wonders with the small space at the Playhouse. The scene changes are good but sadly there is just too much moving about of furniture – a new set for each scene all done to music and by the dancers who play the stereotypical stenographers who self-consciously wiggle their behinds and behave like idiots in order to share Chuck’s apartment with the somewhat unattractive middle aged directors of the company.

These guys are played , sung and danced with enormous ebullience and a great deal of leering at the sexy girls. Question – Would they have had beards in the fifties/sixties?


Luckily Act two begins with a starring performance from Alex Young as Marge. She is a wonderfully inventive comic turn and her two short scenes with Chuck are the highlight of the show. Another highlight is the performance by John Guerrasio who plays a comical doctor – an actor who makes the most of Neil Simon’s Jewish wit.

I was not particularly au fait with the music (I’d only heard one of them) ‘I’ll never fall in love again’ which the two main protagonists perform sweetly with Vick on acoustic guitar.


This musical will be successful – yet another notch on the Southwark Playhouse musical belt.


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