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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

Rough Haired Pointer
In association with The King’s Head Theatre present

 

The Diary of a Nobody

 

 
Adapted by Mary Franklin
from the novel by George and Weedon Grossmith
Director/Adaptor - Mary Franklin
Original Designer – Carin Nakanishi
Revival Designer - Christopher Hone
Lighting Designer - Seth Rook Williams

 

The King’s Head Theatre

 

 20 January – Saturday 14 February 2015

 

 

Following the end of a residency by Olivier Award-winning OperaUpClose, The King’s Head theatre is moving in a new direction this year and has refocused their artistic policy towards new work and critical theatrical revivals. Mary Franklin’s adaptation of the Weedon’s fond comic novel is the first item on the programme in a season which is set to cover everything from a raucous adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting to a brand new play by Rickard Cameron set to be directed by Mike Bradwell. Originally serialised in Punch magazine between 1888 and 1889, The Diary of a Nobody follows one Mr Pooter and his family and friends over a diarised period of fifteen months.

Four astonishingly adaptable actors take on all 45 roles with varying comic approaches, a multitude of accents and a vast array of props and headgear. Jake Curran takes the lead role as Pooter himself, a bumbling gent with a comically inflated sense of his own importance and a tendency to go wild at his own jokes.  Jordan Mallory Skinner fills a number of excellently executed roles; chiefly playing Pooter’s sweet but unstable wife Carrie. Geordie Wright’s standout role is as Sarah the long-suffering servant but he’s also notable as the increasingly strange love-interests of Pooter’s wastrel son, Lupin. George Fouracres plays troublesome Lupin as well as a majority of the Pooter’s house callers, displaying delightfully impressive range.

A striking set consists of black and white cut-out design walls, with matching props and costumes, seemingly in homage to the illustrations in the original novel, first published in its entirety in 1892. The set very much becomes a character as the four actors bemoan the fact that the drawn-on windows won’t open, take the much-used post-box out of a pocket for use or move the one available door around the stage depending on the status of each caller. Sound is a vital part of the chaotic mood which is nurtured in this production. There’s melodic whistling, impromptu collaborations and a tireless Carrie pretending to play the piano for dramatic effect. Sticks are bashed together and ornamental frogs made to croak as this pacey drama trundles along.

The on-stage chemistry between Pooter and Carrie is undeniable and although there might have been room for illustrating the more tender side of Mr Pooter, Rough Haired Pointer can’t be blamed for chasing the fun factor to provide ninety minutes of thigh-slapping entertainment. The King’s Head is a wonderfully intimate venue and as the characters traipse up and down the centre aisle, nestle amongst theatre goers at a show of their own and pull an audience member up on stage to guess his way through a scene, one revels in some of the most unforced immersion going, in an era when immersive theatre is sometimes almost aggressively so.

The fact is that The Diary of a Nobody is rather a diary of everybody. It’s a celebration of the comical banalities of everyday life which magically, seems as relevant today as it would have done to its contemporary readers in 1888. As a season-opener, it calls for rapt attention to the rest of the exciting King’s Head programme this year.

 

 
King’s Head Theatre
 115 Upper Street, Islington,London N1 1QN
Box Office: 0207478 0160
Tickets: £19.50 (concessions £15). 
Previews from £10
http://kingsheadtheatre.com/
 
 
 

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