Review – Diary of a Nobody – Rough Haired Pointer at The King’s Head


It’s depressing to go to a show based on a literary classic and find yourself wiggling in your seat, going, “But I just don’t get it!” It’s even more depressing when said show is not just an original adaptation, but is transferring from another venue. Clearly a whole lot of people have enjoyed Rough Haired Pointer’s Diary of a Nobody, but I wasn’t one of them.

The story is slight – deliberately so (for comic effect): a clerk (Jamie Treacher, although voiced by all of the actors at different times, as this is the narrator) has a quiet little household in North London (Holloway, actually) where his lives with his wife (Jordan Mallory-Skinner) and a few house servants (frequently played by George Fouracres). Their simple lives of meals, home improvements, and bad puns is interrupted by the return home of their adult son (Geordie Wright), who seems unable to hold down a job and not concerned by this.

And then … I don’t know, hijinks ensue? Mostly, it seems like very little happens, other than our narrator making himself out to be rather self important and his son acting like a git, but I just really didn’t find it very funny, except for when the actors were corpsing (it was a preview so I presume some details were ironing out) and of course when an egg was thrown to the ground and bounced. Now THAT really got me going!

But I was so enamored of the look of this play that it seems churlish of me to give this show a purely negative review. All of the set decor, props, and costumes were done in a uniform style of drawn lines on white that I thought made the show unbearably entrancing to look at, like a live action cartoon. Nearly the only breaks in color are red from a painted bathtub and some lobsters – and some colored bells. There is also a very rich soundtrack, nearly at the level of a radio drama, which I felt added a lot of atmosphere (and occasionally a sense of impending doom) to the production. My feeling is of a production company that is probably going to be doing things I will like – but not this show. I have bought a copy of the book and will see if, after reading it, I am illuminated about the jokes that I clearly just did not get.

Be advised that if it’s a hot day out, you’re going to be quite warm in the theater: iced drinks are highly recommended, but not too many as the first act ran nearly 1:10 the night I went and the show was not finished until after ten. Your running time may vary.

(This review is for a preview performance that took place on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Diary of a Nobody continues through August 24th. It runs in rep: see the King’s Head Theater’s website for details.)


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One Response to “Review – Diary of a Nobody – Rough Haired Pointer at The King’s Head”

  1. James Watson Says:

    I’d say a reading of the book would almost certainly add to the (re)viewer’s enjoyment of this production. The book was a surprising comedy delight for me (surprising because in my experience comedy doesn’t often age too well) and this adaption works perfectly because whilst remaining essentially faithful to the narrative and charm of the book eg Pooter’s pathetic puns, it throws in all manner of surreal add-ons. One of the great skills of the book is making Pooter a pretentious figure of fun who is yet likeable as he is a decent man and he doesn’t dwell long on his myriad amusing setbacks- he never has to wait long for the next one! I thought Treacher did a great job of conveying this, and Wright, Fouracres and Mallory-Skinner were all superb as various members of the ensemble often portrayed with manic energy ; Mallory-Skinner’s Mrs Pooter’s silently building maniacal fury as she is arguing with Pooter was particularly disturbing/hysterically funny! The momentum was kept up tot the end with boundless energy and enthusiasm, the accidental destruction of the door frame and good amount of corpsing. The set and costume design both also superb. In short, this was one of the best things I have seen for ages!

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