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Packs a punch, but it's not a knockout

MITCH and Morrie are Tuesday people. It doesn't matter whether Mitch has got a baseball game to cover -- if it's happening on a Tuesday, then he can't make it. Because he's with Morrie. And that's their day. But Mitch Albom and Morrie Schwartz aren't family.

The latter is a retired sociology professor living in Massachusetts, whose body is quickly losing its battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Mitch, on the other hand, is a 37-year-old sports journalist based in Detroit, who can't say no to a job. That is, until he pays his old friend a long overdue visit.

For reasons that are never quite clear, the pair took a shine to one another back in college. Mitch was Morrie's favourite student (their classes were on a Tuesday, of course), and Morrie was the teacher that Mitch made a promise to keep in touch with. After 16 years, it's obvious that somebody has forgotten their promise. But when Morrie's deteriorating condition becomes the subject of a late-night news report, his old student figures it's time for the teacher to give his final course. Every Tuesday at Morrie's house.


It all sounds just a little too Hallmark, but it's a true story. Mitch even wrote the best-selling book -- which was later made into a film -- as well as co-writing this pleasing if somewhat flawed two-hander. Maybe it's the cold set (giant bookshelves and scattered belongings). Perhaps it's the rushed nature of Albom's stilted storytelling. Were he and co-writer Jeffrey Hatcher not in a rush to set up everything for the main event, we might begin to understand what it is that really brought these two together.

There are a lot of gaps, especially when it comes to Mitch and Morrie's personal lives. Thankfully, Terry Byrne (Morrie) and Andrew Murray (Mitch) work well together, even if it sometimes seems as though neither man is sure of whether to deliver their lines to the audience or to each other. But that's what you get in a play full of sharp one-liners and witty aphorisms.

In the end, Tuesdays with Morrie packs a reasonably powerful punch, when it should have been a knockout.