Harold and Maude review: Far tamer than the original | Theatre | Entertainment
They meet at the funeral of someone neither knows and embark on a passionate friendship.
Harold And Maude began life as a master’s thesis of Colin Higgins at Berkeley.
He made it the basis of his screenplay for Hal Ashby’s cult film and adapted it, first as a novel and then as a play in Paris.
This latest incarnation is far tamer than the original – the comedy is more dove grey than black and, crucially, the couple’s sexuality is toned down.
In the film Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon ended up in bed together, here Bill Milner’s Harold gives Sheila Hancock’s Maude no more than a discreet peck.
This is emblematic of Thom Sutherland’s production, which substitutes whimsical charm for dangerous eccentricity with a resulting loss of pertinence and power.
Nevertheless, there’s much to enjoy in the splendid performances of Milner and Hancock: he a virtuoso of vacuousness; she chirruping like an Austrian Madame Arcati, singing sweetly and even climbing a ladder.
Rebecca Caine as Harold’s monstrously overbearing mother and Samuel Townsend as a barking seal lend sterling support.