In John Godber’s refreshingly funny romcom, April In Paris, builder Al has been out of work for nine months and getting under the feet of his bored and frustrated wife, Bet.
Despite the nature of the business it’s not something Liverpool-born actor Joe McGann has experienced in his 25-year career.
While others have periods of “resting” the versatile performer goes from comedy and musicals to serious drama, on stage and screen, with regularity. And when he’s not acting there is always his musical career.
Now he’s working with a playwright he’s long admired and an actress, former Corrie star Shobna Gulati, who has been a life-long friend and colleague on a major regional tour of April In Paris – and the-two hander is an absolute cracker.
Joe, eldest of the acting McGann brothers (there’s also Paul, Mark and Stephen) came to the public’s attention in the 1990 TV sitcom The Upper Hand.
He has since appeared in diverse stage roles from Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls and Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof to the thinly veiled Nazi, Hermann Goring, in Chichester Festival Theatre’s award-winning The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui.
April In Paris, which arrives at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre on Tuesday, is the tale of northerners, Bet and Al, who find that their struggling relationship gets an unexpected kick-start when they go on a minibreak to Paris.
Until now the Hull couple haven’t been further than, probably, Cleethorpes, so the concept of a ferry crossing and navigating themselves around the world’s most romantic city, is ripe for comedy.
“These are simple people,” says Joe. “I know lots of people just like them.
“Al has been out of work and he’s feeling emasculated. Bet spends a lot of time running him down but I’d like to think he gives as good as he gets.
“I like John Godber’s work but I’ve not done one of his plays before. Then I found out it was with Shobna, who I’ve known for a number of years, so that’s what attracted me to it – plus I like to keep working.
“Godber’s work has a universal appeal. Everyone knows relationships like this. And there are people in the north who don’t have the disposable income to travel abroad.
“I know Paris really well as I have friends over there. Like Al I enjoy The Louvre. I also like the Flea Market and Montmartre”.
There’s a scene in April In Paris when the couple find themselves at a seedy nightclub that stages drag acts – and end up having the time of their lives.
“Yes, that really exists,” said Joe.
April In Paris tours until October but Joe is already lining up work.
“I’ve a few irons in the fire. I’ve been offered a possible film job playing an assassin and there are one or two theatre jobs. I’m lucky in that I can do pretty much everything,” he said.