Thursday, 2 June 2016

Review: Sideways at the St James Theatre

St James Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 31st May 2016

Adapted from his 2004 novel, Rex Pickett's stage adaptation of Sideways has some funny moments but is yet to be fine-tuned. The piece follows two middle-aged men, Miles and Jack, as they head to Santa Barbara for a week of wine-tasting before Jack's wedding. Things don't run smoothly, with both men heading towards a whopper of a midlife crisis.

The concept behind Pickett's play is strong; I love easygoing screen comedies such as The Hangover and Bridesmaids but nobody has ever managed to pull off the genre on stage.

The overall structure of the play feels drawn out, the pace is slow and packed with endless scene changes - at least an hour could be cut from the 2hr 40min running time. Perhaps Pickett adapting the piece himself was a mistake - going a forward the script needs a fresh pair of eyes to come on board and tighten things up.

I thoroughly enjoyed Daniel Weyman and Simon Harrison's performance as Miles and Jack. Rarely leaving the stage, Weyman's portrayal of struggling writer Miles is endearing despite the character's flaws. It took me a little longer to warm to Harrison who bellows his way through scene after scene, but he comes into his own in the second act which is overall stronger than the first.

I loved the alluring Ellie Piercy and Beth Cordingly as Maya and Terra, two women who cross paths with Miles and Jack. Their scenes were without doubt the strongest of the night. Overall David Grindley's production is a little too fiddly. Laura Hopkins' design looks very cheap and I began to feel dizzy as set pieces were constantly twirled around every two minutes. 

I love that the St James are embracing the theme with wine-tasting on offer as part of a VIP ticket deal. Deep down Sideways is a very relatable piece. It is by no means a bad play, just a work-in-progress.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Sideways runs at the St James Theatre until 9th July 2016.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith 

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