adapted by Mary Franklin from the novel by George and Weedon Grossmith.

King’s Head Theatre 115 Upper Street N1 1QN To 14 February 2015.
Mon-Sat 7pm Mat 14 Feb 3pm.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7478 0160.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 January.

Best when sticking to the record.
Rough-cast productions are Rough Haired Pointer theatre’s policy. Comically enough, the Pooter’s suburban home is laid-out as in an architect’s plan. its most solid object a single door which, fortunately, is moved from its first position masking part of the stage from much of the audience, to one side. It still rocks back and forth when provoked, and is deliberately too low for characters to enter straight-up.

The all-male actors similarly have a rough theatrical magic when taking-on the female roles, whether it’s Jordan Mallory-Skinner’s smoothly subservient Mrs Pooter with the merest suggestion of suppressed discontent, or Geordie Wright, towering and bearded in physical defiance of playing Sarah the family servant. Jake Curran brings neatly-bearded, side-whiskered late Victorian clerk Pooter to life with his tall frame and positive when recounting the daily occurrences he records in his diary. Pooter’s expression of feelings are shared between the cast, giving them a comic distance.

Diary was written by two comedy actors (George created several Gilbert & Sullivan patter-song singing characters), raised among its north London commuters. Nowadays, it’d be ‘Blog of a Nobody’, indistinguishable among seriously-intended examples, except for those sharp-eyed enough to pick-out its precision-satire.

For some time, this is humorously depicted in appropriate stage comedy. But 90 minutes is a long time to keep-up such a joke. The Grossmiths gave Charles and Carrie a balancing humanity – they care about each other, even in their arguments, and have a genuine parental concern over their wayward son Lupin, even when it’s apparent he can look after himself pretty well.

Pooter is rewarded, properly enough for a Victorian middle-class readership, with property, when his career-long service leads his employer Mr Perkupp to present him with the freehold rights to his suburban villa. The humour bound-in with this lies in Pooter’s near-speechless gratitude. The point’s diminished when Perkupp becomes a stereotypical bent-backed dodderer.

Apart from this lack of tonal variety, the production increasingly uses the Diary as a pretext for showing how resourceful they all are, even when the play goes wrong. By when, with some distance to go, the evening loses its way.

Charles Pooter/Pooter 1: Jake Curran.
Carrie Pooter/Mr Perkupp/Spotch/Crowbillion/Pooter 4.: Jordan Mallory-Skinner.
Horwin/Grocer’s Boy/Gowing/Borset/Brickwell/Lupin/Sheriff/Waiter/Trillip/Mrs Birell/Mr Padge/Moss/Mr Murray Posh/Lillie Posh/Pooter 2: George Fouracres.
Cummings/Sarah/Farmerson/Marton/Mrs James/Daisy Mutler/Burwin-Fosselton/Rev John Panzy Smith/Teddy Finsworth/Pooter 3: Geordie Wright.

Director: Mary Franklin.
Designer: Christopher Hone.
Lighting: Seth Rook Williams.
Sound: Jordan Mallory-Skinner.

2015-01-26 00:53:34

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