The Diary of a Nobody at the King’s Head Theatre, 20 January 2015 – 14 February 2014
The Diary of a Nobody, the story of Charles Pooter, was published as a series of articles and illustration in Punch during the late 19th Century, and was written by brothers George and Weedon Grossmith. There have been numerous stage, screen and radio adaptations over the intervening years, often differing wildly in interpretation, for instance Keith Waterhouse’s play, featuring Judy Dench and Michael Williams, told the story from the point of view of Pooter’s wife Carrie.
As would be expected, Rough Haired Pointer have their own take on the story. This starts with the design (Karina Nakaninsky and Christopher Hone): both set and costumes are constructed to resemble the black and white drawings in the original work. Secondly, the adaptation and direction (Mary Franklin) splits the action between four characters in an interesting way (the narration, as Pooter, is shared by all four, for instance), and thirdly the sheer madcap mayhem and silliness of the production was extremely refreshing.
The cast consisted of four male actors, which did add slightly to the Pythonesque atmosphere of the piece, although I’m sure it could work equally well with women also. Jake Curran played Charles Pooter throughout, which lent a much needed anchor to the play, amidst the constantly changing characters around him. He did an excellent job of conveying both poignancy and humour. Jordan Mallory-Skinner played Carrie throughout, although he did morph briefly into three other characters. Again, he gave a sympathetic and amusing portrayal of the character, and, although not dragged up in any way other than the costume and a pair of earrings, at times I found myself forgetting he was not really a woman!
All the remaining characters were played by Geordie Wright and George Fouracres. Wright did have a main character of sort, in Sarah, the maid, but he played many others also, and Fouracres was continually changing parts, although perhaps his role as Lupin, the Pooters’ son, is the one that most sticks in my mind. These two actors contributed a lot of the over-the-top hilarity which was a characteristic of the production, and both displayed great comic flair, as indeed did Curran and Mallory-Skinner. The chaotic fun was enhanced by the staging: little touches such as having the cast pour glasses of rice from a wine bottle and try to drink it, and the postman carrying a letter box with him as well as a letter to put through it. There was also some audience participation involved. In addition, there was quite a bit of corpsing, which strangely just made the play even funnier.
The Diary of a Nobody is closing at the King’s Head tonight, so do pop down and see it if you can, or look out for future productions (the current one is a transfer from the White Bear). For more information, visit www.kingsheadtheatrepub.co.uk or www.roughhairedpointer.com.
Photographs courtesy of Rocco Redondo