The New York-London Rendezvous at Canal Café Theatre
The play is as simple as its name suggests: two friends, one from New York and the other from London, meet up each year, and this time they rendezvous in London. The New York-London Rendezvous claims to give us a “little laughter, a little bitching and a lot of songs”, which is accurate, but perhaps there is too little substance. The performance is somewhat enjoyable to watch, but at only 45 minutes (the programme did promise an hour) it will hardly stay in the mind.
The two characters speak to each other but their conversation is carried out predominately through songs. These are well chosen and and well sung, with spoken words effortlessly merging into Broadway numbers. Having said that, Valerie Cutko’s booming vocals would be more fitting in a cabaret or West-End musical: it seems too much for such a small stage and intimate production. Equally, her presence and exaggerated movements are too large for the space and she fails to reproduce a natural and close relationship with her friend on stage. George Rae works with the space better, at points his acting is brutally honest, such as when he describes himself as a failure. But the play never penetrates beneath the superficial, it is somewhat clichéd in terms of the themes covered – failing musicians, loneliness – with the incorporation of songs giving it some spark of originality.
The small theatre is set up not into rows of seats but tables, which takes the audience one step closer to the action: with its table and piano it becomes an extension of the audience’s room. This perhaps saves the play from being just another small, forgetful musical; it is a sociable, enjoyable entertainment where you can drink, eat and delight in drama. The only downside is it could fall into the trap of becoming background entertainment, like a piano accompanying the chatter in a restaurant. The New York-London Rendezvous is an inexpensive, quick fix and light-hearted theatre experience.
The New York-London Rendezvous is on at Canal Café Theatre on Sunday 29th May and Sunday 5th June, for further information or to book visit here.