The Diary of a Nobody
George and Weedon Grossmith
Rough Haired Pointer in association with King’s Head Theatre
King's Head Theatre
The King’s Head is an intimate venue and a perfect choice for the domestic scenes played out in The Diary of A Nobody. The audience are literally invited into the home of the Pooter family as they proudly introduce their new property ‘The Laurels’ in Holloway.
The set is stark white with all sense of perspective drawn in with thick black lines; the effect is a good nod to the original illustrations and also makes the production resemble a live-action comic.
This sketchy element also carries through to the direction, as with each diary entry the actors launch into a different scene, many of which could be standalone vignettes.
The cast of four all excel, often-switching characters, accents, genders and ages. The only actor who does not multi-role is Jamie Treacher as Mr Pooter, theoretically the ‘straight man’ of the cast, who captures the pompous nature of the character, laughing at his own jokes and swelling with pride when given a compliment. Treacher creates a likeable character, however, and when his mustard and cress finally grows in his window boxes it earns a round of applause.
Jordan Mallory Skinner as his wife Carrie (and also Mr Perkup, Spotch and Crowbillion) is delightfully deadpan and almost throws away certain lines making them even funnier. With the addition of a variety of withering looks, Skinner is entirely believable as the loving but frustrated wife and he earns plenty of laughs for this deliberately restrained portrayal.
In total contrast are Geordie Wright and George Fouracres, who play all of the rest of the characters in Pooter’s humdrum life. Exaggerated, gregarious and clearly attacking everything with gusto, they are total contrast to the calmer comedy of Mr and Mrs Pooter.
It would be hard to decide my favourite of their characters, but Wright as Burwington-Fosselton, the amateur actor, and as Mrs James, the Australian show-off, would have to rank alongside Fouracres as the Pooter’s foppish son Lupin and as his brief but brilliant cameo as a French waiter.
It takes the first few minutes of the play for the audience to tune into this sort of madcap performance, but, once the style becomes clear, there are plenty of belly laughs to be had. For the performance I watched, there was quite a lot of corpsing too, which created even more of a light-hearted atmosphere.
Whether this will carry on for the rest of the run remains to be seen, but luckily for this type of production it can only enhance it as the audience never needs reminding that the actors are only representing the characters—with half of the cast literally changing hats every few minutes it is almost inevitable for something to go wrong.
That’s not to say it isn’t slick. The comic timing is excellent and the puns and visual jokes beautifully executed. It could perhaps do with a little trimming as the running time was longer than anticipated (and a few gags were repeated) but the pace is speedy, almost frenetic in places, and the narrative elements fit neatly with the overall style of the piece.
Once it warms up, this is an extremely funny production, partially due to script but mainly due to the energetic performances that the cast give. On such a hot summer evening, the level of physical exertion leaves their costumes soaked through and, thanks to, both accidental and deliberate, comedic happenings, the set is also left in complete disarray.
Organised chaos is possibly the best description of the show and perfectly reflects Pooter’s life. If other people’s lives are dramatised why shouldn’t his?
Reviewer: Amy Yorston