This review was of the show's run at the White Bear theatre. The show returns to the Kings Head in 2017.
In the ’90s everyone laughed at Bridget Jones’s; Anne Frank’s still makes us gasp in horror today, but in Victorian London the diary that everyone read was that of the ridiculous Mr Pooter.
Pooter, the fictional character at the heart of brothers George and Weedon Grossmith’s 1892 book ‘The Diary of a Nobody’ is a painfully pretentious middle-class bank clerk, whose day-to-day goings are 90 percent trivial, ten percent glorious chaos.
Adapting playwright and director Mary Franklin bravely puts the hapless Charles Pooter and his family in all their idiocy onstage. On Carin Nakanishi’s great black-and-white line-drawn set, six actors play out the comings and goings – quite literally in the case of Pooter’s friends Mr Cummings and Mr Gowing – at Pooter’s house over 15 months. Cress and mustard seeds are planted, the bath is painted red, awful puns are cracked and Pooter occasionally and mortifyingly makes an utter tit out of himself in high society.
Though it’s often too haphazard for its own good, Rough Haired Pointer’s production is great fun. The ensemble cast take on a huge number of characters, moving from one to the next on stage, which makes for some superb physical comedy. Though they were in fact missing an actor the night I saw it, things seemed to run as smoothly as they were supposed to.
Which is to say, not smoothly at all. By the end of the show the set has fallen apart, bread has been thrown everywhere and costumes lie in heaps on the floor. The nice thing about ‘The Diary of a Nobody’ is that it captures the original’s sharp subtext, frivolous wit and heavy irony, while also being very, very silly.
A judicious tightening of timing and pace would have brightened up the middle and enhanced the raucousness further. But still, with his attempts to be somebody, this nobody is highly entertaining.