31 October – 18 November 2017
Adapted & directed by Mary Franklin
Based on the novel by George & Weedon Grossmith
Adapted from a Victorian cult-classic, A Diary of Nobody follows the tribulations and triumphs of a bourgeois clerk called Charles Pooter.
The original source material was itself a novelised compilation of a collection of 1880s Punch cartoons. It’s a riotous and joyful romp, a Victorian sit-com. The play has 45 characters, all played by 4 incredibly skilful male actors to hysterical effect, with the show’s creative staging and the comic talents of the cast resulting in an extremely fun 2 hours.
There is no serious love interest or adversary. No mistaken identity or overarching ambition. Rather, we watch how Mr Charles Pooter and his wife Carrie cope with their woe-begotten son Lupin. We watch Pooter’s misadventures with the maid, the new butcher, his boss, his wife’s friend, and his garden plants.
Jake Curran, Jordan Mallory-Skinner, Loz Keystone, and Geordie Wright are engaging and hilarious performers. Some scripted moments are so kinetic they could gave been improvised, and some improvised moments so inspired they should have been scripted.
Adapted and directed by the talented Mary Franklin, it’s a joyous show. The design is wonderful. Modelled as it was on the original Grossmith illustrations, it feels sketched, the simple black and white colour scheme and pencilled-in props lending a cartoonish look that’s beyond perfect for the production.
The faults with the production lie in the play’s structure.
The show is essentially a farce in terms of its energetic, slapstick style and humour, but whereas farce builds continually from previous moments, this play doesn’t. Much like it’s original form as a serial cartoon, the play moves from gag-to-gag as Pooter lives day-by-day. It results in a funny ‘year-in-the-life’ full of domestic scandal, but the irregular pacing and lack of any character-arcs take their toll. Characters are introduced, and then vanish again never to reappear. Disaster befalls them only for it to immediately be resolved. The show fails to build beyond the current scene and there’s no climax, making it feel a little hollow.
Having said that, if you’re just out for some light entertainment and a drink it’s well worth the ticket!