I went to see the stage version of When Harry Met Sally last night. Yes, yes, purely for research purposes, though it was actually quite a light, fun evening – which reminded me that like any form of entertainment sometime theatre should be just a bit of fluff. (Some people might exclaim that with all the musicals strung up and down Shaftesbury Avenue/Broadway all you get is fluff – but that is often heavy, overblown fluff). I was ostensiably there for research on theatrical adaptations of films, so I sat there with the film script in hand ready to notice major changes. It was not all that necessary. There was a noticeable gear shift when the adaptation turned to the initial script. The adaptation barely changes a word, except to change the harder to stage secquences. So the initial car journey turns into a flat painting gig (which ill fits the lawyer to be), and the aeroplane meeting is transplanted to a gym.

I did not really need the script though to get the gist of the staging. It was all there infront of me. The play was done within a black framed box, with dimensions not unlike a nice widescreen cinema screen. The filmic origin was further emphasised by the constant scene bookends where the front of the stage literally turned into a cinema screen and the cute old couple stories were projected on stage.

So what was the point? Well the full audience (predominantly female) seemed to lap it up, which was as much point as you needed. The story had been moved forward in time to culminate on New Year’s Eve 2000, but little else was changed. It did its money scenes (the orgasm and the split screen telephone call) rather well, but fluffed the ending. But the ending in the film is all voice over, short cuts and the only part that would transfer badly. The reimagining of this bit did not really work. But I did finally find a reason you might prefer this to the DVD (not just the night out). It doesn’t have Billy Crystal in it. Michael Landes’* Harry was much less punchable than Crystal’s. Proving oddly that, at least when it came to casting, the idea that it had to be you is not necessarily the case. 

*Though it was annoying when everyone in the theatre was going “What have I seen him in?” He was the first Jimmy Olsen in The New Adventures Of Superman. OKAY!