When Harry Met Sally in Dubai

Time Out talks to the stars of the Madinat Theatre’s latest show

Interview, Hot seat, The Knowledge

Why do you think you were cast for these incredibly well-known roles?
Gillian [Sally]: Apart from the obvious, I’m small and blonde and wavy haired – so I slightly resemble Meg Ryan [the actress who played Sally in the 1989 film version]. As far as the part goes, I can do ‘bubbly’ well.
The part is very true to me as a person – I’m not having to act that much.

John [Harry]: I don’t look anything like Billy Crystal – fortunately, I think. Maybe people will expect a Billy Crystal impersonator, but essentially this is a really good piece about relationships. I’m a big fan of the film. It’s a comedy with a different twist. I do find myself going off on one like Harry. Similarly I’m a lot like Sally – I can be a bit OCD sometimes. Everyone has a bit of Harry and a bit of Sally within them.

What’s your relationship like off-stage?
Gillian: We banter a bit. I’m Scottish and he’s Geordie, so we bond over our accents!

Can men and women just be friends?
Gillian: Yes. The majority of the time you can’t be – but I do think there are certain times when you can.

John: It is a tough one. I have to find women attractive – it’s essential. If you find them attractive it does kind of get in the way. You will be thinking about it, but I guess you can still be friends.

Have you played in many different countries?
John: This is especially for Dubai. It was produced in London six years ago – we’re the first to have done it in the Middle East. We hope it goes down very well. It’s about people looking for love – that’s a universal thing around the world. It also covers friendship, which is another big topic with appeal for everyone.

Finally, how exactly are you going to do that Katz Diner scene here?
John: There is nothing gratuitous about it. It’s implied. It’s up to the audience to fill in the gaps. We’re being very careful and trying to be respectful, while trying to maintain the quality of the comedy.

Have you had any warnings about running the scene here?
John: No, none at all.

Is it a difficult scene to act?
Gillian: Not as difficult as you might think! There seems to be a nervous vibe around it even though it’s not really that bad. It’s not that much of a big deal. The bit everyone talks about only last 25 seconds! The whole play is much more intimidating to me: the amount of words and the journey Sally goes on.
When Harry Met Sally is at the First Group Theatre, Madinat Jumeirah, until November 27. See www.timeouttickets.com.

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