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The stage at the Playhouse was transformed into the play's two locations - Marks & Co. bookshop, and Hanff's tiny apartment - which fitted together as one, emphasising how close Helene and her long-term correspondent Frank Doel became over the years. The set designers excelled, making the bookshop look real enough to walk into, and filling Hanff's apartment with personality despite only showing her desk and a few odd boxes of books.
The acting was equally superb. Stefanie Powers and Clive Francis stood out as Helene and Frank, developing a sharp and sparkling rapport even though the nature of the play meant that they could never interact directly - no mean feat even for such seasoned actors. The bookshop staff began as a chorus, often literally, singing and playing music to accompany the more festive scenes; however, each one got the chance to claim the spotlight individually, as more and more employees of Marks & Co. began to write to their favourite customer in the States. The humour in the play never failed to hit its mark, with the audience laughing out loud at every letter.
84 Charing Cross Road quickly draws the audience into the friendship between Helene and Frank, two kindred spirits whose love of books transcends the differences between their lives and situations. Helene is a freelance writer with a chaotic life and no job security, but she has access to many more luxuries than the steady and traditional Frank, who is living in the post-war British world of rationing and austerity. However, they bond over Donne and Pepys, as well as sports and Christmas hampers. Cambridge Arts Theatre has put together a warm and cheerful production that will strike a chord with every bookworm.