What can you do on a Saturday Night alone? It's a question one young man and woman have to address as they struggle into their respective studio apartments, burdened by plants, groceries and that telling symbol of Saturday night solitude, the first edition of New York's Sunday Times. This is a revue complied from unknown Sondheim songs written between 1954 and 1973, but, unlike many revues, by the end of the evening a sort of story has been told. The man and woman have both just moved in to their shabby studios, proud tenants of their first homes in New York. Actually, she lives on the floor above him, but we see their apartments merged as one, functioning as his, hers, both. They never meet, but they serve in each other's dreams and recollections and in counterpoint to each other - beginning with Two Fairy Tales set in remote kingdoms long ago and far away. "There's probably a moral to be pointedly discussed," they conclude. How they spend the evening and how they feel about it is told through their actions and the songs, some of which dwell on uncomplicated pleasures (Can That Boy Foxtrot) others which comment on the principals obliquely, allusively, ironically. All Things Brights and Beautiful and Bang! present two different views of love -the first, the promise of romance, the possibility of having everything forever, tomorrow, Monday, April, Christmas; the second, a more robust approach: the battle rages, the trousers fall ... In their different ways, both approaches are foolish. But what's the alternative? The woman sings of The Girls of Summer, burned by the sun and the moon, but at least they have fun ...
In the city, though, you can always reinvent yourself. The man recounts the tale of Hyphenated Harriet, the nouveau from New Rochelle, whose climb to the top leaves her schizophrenically split Uptown, Downtown, torn between champagne at the Ritz or a foaming stein of beer. How many of us, wonders the woman, start out looking for a man of means before realising that the man means more than the means? So Many People in the world, but they'll never know a love like hers. Their next song addresses one of those enduring problems of urban life: you live across the way from a girl, you see them every day, you want to tell her Your Eyes Are Blue but you're scared to speak; how do you break the wall? How do you meet? When it happens, though, it's instant: Wilbur Wright, Fred Astaire and Sigmund Freud slogged for years before they got it right, but, when you're in love, all it takes is A Moment With You.
Falling in love is easy, staying in love is trickier, and the next two songs confront qualified commitment (Marry Me a Little) and the constraints of eternal monogamy (Happily Ever After). For some, the questions can be ducked by droll, sophisticated pleasures, in the pink and on the green again, but strictly Pour le Sport. But what's the point? The young man derides those Silly People who don't know what they want and don't say what they mean, while, looking to the future, the young woman decides that There Won't Be Trumpets to announce his arrival.
And what of what might have been? After a date which misfires, when the candlestick was wet and the champagne flat, the couple persuade themselves that It Wasn't Meant to Happen. But, even as they wave good-bye, they're drawing closer together: defense may not always be the best form of attack, but regret can sometimes be the best means of seduction ... The evening ends with two wistfully innocent predictions of domestic bliss: Who Could Be Blue? in an Little White House. We have spent an evening with two lonely, single people in their shabby rented rooms. But, through their songs, we've glimpsed a rich and moving fantasy life.