Pros: The brilliant cast will leave you rolling with laughter.
Cons: Slightly rough around the edges, but for understandable reasons.
The Diary of a Nobody is adapted from a book of the same name by George and Weedon Grossmith. Originally written around 1888, the authors’ sense of humour still feels remarkably relevant today. The story is told through excerpts from the diary of a Charles Pooter, a rather average man, or a nobody even. He attempts to live his life in a good and upright manner, yet the world around him causes even the most mundane of tasks he does to turn into farce. It is one of my favorite books, and this production brings it to life admirably while staying faithful to the original.
The cast is ideal for the play. The actors handle the humour of the story exceptionally well; throughout the entire play the audience was absolutely roaring with laughter at both the subtle glances and the slapstick comedy. Jake Curran as Charles Pooter is wonderfully indignant, and casting a man, Jordan Mallory-Skinner, as Carrie Pooter adds an extra comedic layer to the character. Mallory-Skinner’s facial expressions betray every single one of Carrie’s emotions without him having to utter a word, to hilarious results.
That the performance I saw was missing a cast member makes this production an all the more impressive achievement. The actor in question, who was unable to perform due to an emergency, was to play eight characters. The other five cast members had divided these extra roles between them, which they handled almost seamlessly. Some of the impromptu adaptations added even more hilarity to the production, particularly when Carrie and Mr. Perkupp needed to be in the same room at the same time whilst being played by the same actor, and Geordie Wright’s reading from the script for the séance scene was possibly the funniest part of the evening.
The cast members work incredibly well together, and have a wonderful ability improvise and play off each other. Some aspects of the play are inherently rough around the edges, but it’s hard to fault such an eager and hard-working cast.
The setting and costuming are clever. Pooter’s world is largely black and white, and most objects and costumes are white with thick black outlines. This appears to be a nod to the original black and white illustrations in the book, and works nicely within the small space of the White Bear Theatre. The floor features a ‘blueprint’ of the house.
It’s always a danger to see someone take a well-loved book and try to bring it to life, but Rough Haired Pointer have done a brilliant job with this hysterical play. The programme stated that the play is dedicated to Gareth Huntley. The best way to pay tribute to someone is to do so through joy and laughter, and this play is full of both— it is an admirable dedication, and a delightful adaptation.
Authors: George and Weedon Grossmith
Director: Mary Franklin
Producer: Rough Haired Pointer
Box Office: 020 7793 9193
Booking Until: 21 June 2014