George Henare brings Yoda-like chutzpah to the role of a dying academic dispensing advice about life to one of his students in this heart-warming play, writes Janet McAllister

I'm pleased I took my 87-year-old Nan to this feelgood adaptation of Mitch Albom's memoir: it's as comfortable as an old pair of slippers and warm enough to please the cockles of your heart on a winter's night.

This is the second Newmarket Stage Company production-- so far they specialise in two-handers with famous titles starring George Henare as an academic locking horns with a protege (the first was Educating Rita).

Henare brings the right level of chutzpah to 78-year-old Morrie Schwartz -- a dying man with a gleam in his eye. He jokes and gasps and dispenses advice, and near the end his halo of white hair makes him look like Yoda, the epitome of the sage. Old ideas are given new life because they're dispensed by a character who lives by them happily.

Jason Te Mete as Mitch, the prodigal student returned after 16 years for his old professor's blessing, is smooth and cocky in his all-American sweatshirt, yet still endearing. Perhaps it's the solitary dimple; perhaps it's because he so clearly needs a hug.


His creed: "You gotta hustle to make sure you stay on top!"

Morrie's response: "Are you at peace with yourself? Are you trying to be as human as you can be?"

Mitch brings along a tape recorder to keep Morrie's words for posterity (and, though the play doesn't touch on this, sell millions of books).

Te Mete is an accomplished pianist, and his all-too-brief music is a wonderful enhancement of the evening.

Adey Ramsel's direction has Mitch relaxing visibly but naturally. And it is the expected format which makes it so reassuring, and allows one to concentrate on the ideas presented within their conversations. They're ideas worth being reminded about: love, affection, tears, a way of living.

Nan gave me a hug on the way out.

Theatre review

What: Tuesdays with Morrie
Where: Factory Theatre, Newmarket.