On a Clear Day You Can See Forever at the The Bridewell Theatre

Historically, psychiatry has proved more successful as subject matter for film and drama than for the musical stage. It's easy to imagine those doctor/patient couch sessions producing laughter or tears, after all, but the urge to break into song?

Undeterred, Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner teamed up back in the 1960s to give birth to this contribution to the art form. On a Clear Day... fared well on Broadway and was later adapted into a film starring Barbara Streisand and Yves Montand, but the show never made it to these shores. Until now - thirty-five years later.

This is probably not the big-budget British premiere that its creators might have envisaged, but nevertheless, director Carol Metcalf delivers a gem of a production within the tiny confines of the Bridewell.

Jenna Russell plays Daisy Gamble, the kooky young New Yorker, capable of locating friends' misplaced keys and anticipating when the phone is going to ring, who turns to psychoanalyst Dr Mark Bruckner to hypnotise her out of a smoking habit she fears may jeopardise her future marriage to a straight-laced young exec. But once Daisy's under, Bruckner unwittingly regresses her to a past life - that of Melinda Wells, a feisty 18th century English aristocrat who met a tragic end.

When Russell first opens her mouth to reveal an uncannily familiar accent, there's a worry she may spend the next two and half hours aping Madame Streisand, but luckily, that fear is soon laid to rest. Russell is remarkably engaging and commanding in what is, in fact, two roles. At one moment the babbling, unconfident Daisy, she transforms herself in the next into the elegant Melinda who so captivates the doctor.

Harry Burton's performance as Bruckner is a bit flat by comparison, but then he is allowed only a single personality. The supporting ensemble ably fill out the remainder of the much sketchier parts, with only Maurice Clarke sounding a discordant note as the English prat who two-times Melinda.

Aside from the title song, the show boasts just one real show-stopper - the doctor's rousing plea 'Come Back to Me' - although the other numbers do benefit from some pleasingly quirky lyrics, most notably the 'SS Bernard Cohn'.

The main problem with On a Clear Day... is the sudden leaps the script makes in Act Two. It's hard enough to understand why the doctor throws his career and reputation on the line so unnecessarily, but what's harder to fathom is why he so readily transfers his love for Melinda onto the hapless Daisy, a move he resisted to the full throughout Act One.

Still, this Clear Day will send you out of the theatre leaping in the air and clicking your heels - another unlikely but welcome product of a psychiatric session.

Terri Paddock