Watching musicals, reading trashy chit lit and thinking about British people abroad are, without a doubt, my three least favourite activities. So I should have hated Sleeping Arrangements, a musical by Chris Burgess which is based on the Sophie Kinsella novel. But actually, strangely, I kind of loved it.
Set in Spain, Sleeping Arrangements follows the romantic getaways of two couples who, due to unforeseen circumstances, are forced to share a villa that resembles “some ghastly youth hostel.” Chloe (Jenny Gayner) and Phillip (Grant Neal) have a 16-year-old son (Adam Pettigrew) and face financial problems when Phillip is made redundant from his unsatisfying, mid-level banking job.
Amanda (Liza Pulman) and Hugh (Steven Serlin) are new parents who have been forced to employ a nanny (Sabrina Aloueche) because Hugh can’t tell their twins apart. So far, so boring. But the plot thickens when we learn that Chloe and Hugh used to date, and have “unfinished business” (read: a mid-holiday romp in a seedy hotel room) to attend to.
The Landor Theatre is based in the upstairs of a pub and seats an audience of 60. A four-piece band occupies the right hand side of the stage, while the main space is split into three levels and utilises multi-functional furniture, like a bed that turns into a bar. Housing a live band in such a small room inevitably means that some of the cast’s singing is drowned out, but as long as you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine in the downstairs bar first, you won’t mind.
I ought to mention that the songs are, on the whole, pretty dreadful. “Tannoys and a crowd / Smoking not allowed,” is the description of Heathrow airport. “Let my fingers knead your shoulders / They’re like a bunch of quarry boulders,” is Chloe’s description of Phillip’s shoulders. “If only we were gay / If only for a day,” is Hugh’s take on his blossoming bromance with Phillip. You get the picture. Consider also that every song lacks a tune and the song “Sleeping Arrangements” makes a comeback as “Eating Arrangements” and then “Drinking Arrangements”, and you’ll understand my qualms.
But despite its flaws, Sleeping Arrangements is well worth a watch. Amanda, whose character is loosly based on Ab Fab’s Patsy Stone is consistently hilarious, and Sam’s teenage crush on nanny Jenna is adorable to watch unfold.
If you want breathtaking songs and clever plotlines, this musical is unlikely to be your cup of tea. But it's a lot of fun, and it will make you want to go on holiday. Just make sure you drink a few glasses of wine first.