“Is it very hard to seduce a woman?”
Fanciful and French, Jean-Claude Carrière’s Little Black Book is a strange little thing indeed, abstract and random in its tracking of a putative relationship between a man notching up his 134th conquest in his book and a woman in search of a M Ferrand. Their romance starts unconventionally (she just walks into his apartment off the street), it continues unconventionally (they both swing from pillar to post on the whole affair) and it is played unconventionally, toying with the fourth wall in an intriguing way.
Kate Fahy’s production is wily and fitfully engaging, almost mischievous in its nature, as both him and her play about in a series of sketches about the frivolous nature of wooing and indeed of romance, their mutual silliness underscored by a deep sadness at the fragility of the heart and the ease with which good intentions can get confused. Over the space of a couple of days, they traverse the full gamut of emotions that most couples take a lifetime to get through, as complex as love itself.
Jenny Rainsford inhabits Suzanne with enough bombast to elevate the play beyond the realm of male wish fulfilment (a charge it isn’t entirely innocent of) and Gerard Kyd is an effective hapless sap in the face of her manipulations or machinations. It is a brave piece of programming for the Park Theatre who continue to be somewhat random in their selections but certainly offering something different over the panto-stuffed festive season.