Miles and Jack are on a hilarious journey into the heart of wine country. Based on Rex Pickett’s beloved novel, which inspired the Academy Award and Golden Globe winning film, this stage adaptation promised to fizz with comedy and heartfelt emotion, and to go down better than a well-aged Pinot Noir.
When a neurotic author, who is writing his way into a midlife-crisis, and an actor, who is marrying his way out of his, head out to Santa Barbara for a week of wine-tastings, they find out that there’s more to be savoured in California than a few new bottles. For when Miles and Jack meet the equally strong and complex Maya and Terra, the four of them learn just how intoxicating a good glass of wine and good company can be – for better and for worse.
I saw the film many years ago, so the memory is a little vague however I thought to myself, this is going to be interesting to see how it converts onto the stage. A very different start to any production I’ve seen this year, with Miles (Daniel Weyman) sat on the toilet taking a phone call? Hilarity ensued as he and Jack (Simon Harrison) start their wine journey. Along the road they meet Maya (Ellie Piercy) and Terra (Beth Cordingly)
Much as I enjoyed this production I did have issue with the length and sometimes awkward scene changes. Which was strange as there is little in way of props or scenery with the preference for you to create scenes through inference and imagination. Just two doors split in the middle which admittedly did rotate to reveal the next scene. Like the wines they were drinking and discussing there were periods of dryness in the dialogue.
Piercy and Cordingly are feisty and clearly take no prisoners or accept being treated badly. Whilst Weyman plays his role with angst as a struggling neurotic author and Harrison has the predictability of a “stag” out to have one last fling, both actors are believable and you feel engaged with all four lead characters.
However my full appreciation of this piece came from the story of the author written in the programme, no spoilers here but I’d suggest that you read the programme before the show starts. It really will give you a background of where the idea came from and for me this increased my enjoyment.
It is a show that is about friendship, relationships and camaraderie and the adaptation is clever, witty and at times you can really buy into the characters on stage. There is however, only just so long, that you can take listening to the quick and over explained wine appreciation discussions without the need to reach for a bottle yourself.
A good vintage of a production which I’m sure will improve even more with age.
Sideways the play runs at the St James Theatre until 9th July here’s the link for you to book tickets http://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/
Sideways The Play – St James Theatre Until 9th July
★★★”A good vintage of a production which I’m sure will improve even more with age”