The Diary of a Nobody at the King’s Head
This year marks a change in direction for London’s oldest surviving pub theatre, the King’s Head in Islington, which is swapping opera for theatre and new writing. How better to begin this new chapter than by delving into the pages of a well-loved cult novel? Unlikely Victorian bestseller The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith, which charts the day-to-day trials and tribulations of office clerk George Pooter, has been slickly adapted for the stage by Mary Franklin. It returns to the theatre after its sell-out success last year.
A delightful blend of satire, comedy of manners and physical gags, with a couple of Pooter’s terrible puns thrown in for good measure, The Diary of a Nobody finds laughs in the banality of one man’s suburban life. George and his long-suffering wife Carrie hope to enjoy a quiet life of piano-playing and cress-growing in their new Holloway home, but their semi-provincial peace is soon interrupted by a whole host of characters boasting a whole host of accents. The bell of the Pooters’ side door almost never stops ringing as everyone from Borset the Butterman to Burwin-Fossleton comes to call, traipsing into their sitting room and bringing a great deal of mayhem with them. The Pooters’ exploits find them mingling with high society and travelling through the rough streets of drug-riddled Peckham in a string of hilarious blunders.
Incredibly, just four talented actors cover the play’s 45 roles by swapping hats, donning moustaches or becoming inexplicably Aussie. Rough Haired Pointer’s George Fouracres, Jake Curran, Jordan Mallory-Skinner and Geordie Wright are on fine form all evening, just about managing to keep the chaos controlled. Whenever the pace drops – as it does a few times – they’re quick to pick it back up again. What this company can do with a wind piano, some talcum powder and their facial expressions is seriously impressive.
Visually it’s an homage to the book itself, with Carin Nakanishi’s clever black and white cardboard design resembling Weedon’s line drawings. Although the cutting social commentary of the novel is mostly swapped for slapstick all is forgiven, because this version of The Diary of a Nobody is ridiculous fun. An endlessly inventive and heart-warming celebration of the everyday, we’re laughing at ourselves as much as we’re laughing at strangely loveable Pooter, because everybody who’s anybody is really a nobody.
The Diary of a Nobody is on at the King’s Head Theatre until 14th February 2015, for further information or to book visit here.