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Touching comedy whips up a whirlwind of emotions

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»Laugh out loud funny in parts and tear-jerkingly sad in others, Kissing Sid James takes its audience on a whirlwind of extreme highs and lows.

It’s not hard to see why this touching comedy, which started out at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington before a record breaking run in New York, has won over hearts both sides of the pond. The two-hander by Robert Farquhar follows two desperately sad and lonely souls who, following just one disastrous date together, throw caution to the wind and embark on a weekend break to the seaside.

Eddie (played by Highbury resident Alan Drake of Simon Pegg’s comedy A Fantastic Fear of Everything) promises love interest Crystal (Charlotte McKinney) an exclusive luxury hotel to make amends for his card getting declined on their first meeting.

But the B&B turns out to be anything but luxury, and constant rain leaves them cooped up in their tatty room trying to find some common ground.

You’re initially left questioning why the glamorous and attractive flame-headed Crystal would even consider such a wild proposal from the bumbling and gawky stationary salesmen who still lives at home with his mum.

But, as layers unravelled and emotions ran high, the misery and loneliness of what she had hoped would be a dream life after walking out on a 10 year marriage transpires. And it’s there they find their common ground – with both characters clinging onto any hint or glimmer of hope in their desperate quests for love.

The play manages to blend heartfelt, human and poignant moments with hilarious but excruciatingly cringe-worthy bedroom antics that quite literally had me crying with laughter.

Brace yourself for the scene in which Eddie attempts to act out Crystal’s sexual fantasy with Sean Connery – I think it’s the funniest theatre scene I have ever seen.

Drake depicts the innocence, sadness and the relationship ineptness of loner Eddie superbly, while McKinney perfectly portrays Crystal’s frustration and disappointment with the reality of the new life which she hoped would bring so much.

The play is intense, commands your full attention throughout and flies by in 90 minutes without an interval.

It’s the perfect pick-me-up as the disappointment of summer drawing to a close sets in.

* Kissing Sid James is at Jermyn Street Theatre, SW1, until September 29

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