‘Capable cast entertain with a gentle comedy.’
The Woolgathers of Heswall return to the Little Theatre Birkenhead with their second production, after their very successful Agatha Christie’s The Hollow earlier this year. Nobody’s Perfect by Simon Williams is a lesser known romantic comedy, which boarders on farce in places. Williams was a TV actor and voice-over artist but he has some writing credits from the 1990s, which might seem to some a little dated now. It’s a rather cliched but whimsical plot and does offer some funny lines and four characters that give actors some comic opportunities.
Being the first night we were treated to an added surprise to open the show – The Bunker Boys Choir formed ten years ago with members of the Heswall Golf Club. The chaps gave us twenty five minutes of their repertoire opening with ‘Let me Entertain you’ and from Robbie Williams to Elbow, they did! The highlight being the poignant ‘Living years’. They do this for fun, their health and for charity -what better reasons? Just a small note, try to look up and out more… and Smile! But the audience was indeed, entertained.
Then we moved on to the main event, the play – The plot is that of Leonard Loftus, a nice but rather boring statistician who lives with his rather stroppy teenage daughter Dee-Dee and his eccentric father Gus, who acts like an old rock-n-roller. Leonard, a would be novelist, enters a writing competition run by feminist publishers ’Love is All Around,’ under the pseudonym of Myrtle Banbury to avoid the gender bias. When Harriet Copeland telephones to say ‘Myrtle’ has won, it starts a series of comic events – How will Leonard be able to introduce his alter ego to his new publisher? And to add more problems to the plot, Leonard falls in love with publisher Harriet but hasn’t the gumption to tell her.
The play is set in London and the whole cast coped well with ‘southern accents’ and there was a good dynamic between the family members. Leonard’s fatherly frustration with his Po-faced daughter and even more frustration with his father who refuses to grow old gracefully.
It opens with a stylish split-stage set which gives us Leonard’s living room, the raised outside area, which shows the entrance to the flats and also Harriet’s office. Good use of the space and levels with some effective crossfade lighting.
Leonard is played by Oliver Adam, who has a really natural skill at comedy, a good physicality and expressive face and voice. Apparently his previous appearance in the Hollow had been his first for twenty five years and I noted then his natural talent. It’s a shame he left it so long to return but is certainly now an asset to The Woolies. Without giving the plot away, Adam gives us both his shy and dithery Leonard and his more feminine side in his interpretation of his Myrtle – an aunt he has invented. It was a solid performance but in the second act the physical comedy could be pushed even more.
Claire Tagg was convincing as Harriet the high flying publisher with a disastrous love life. She certainly looked the part with her fashionable costume changes and delivered her lines with clarity and a good connection to the audience.
Dee-Dee, the typical teenage daughter really got the attitude but also the tenderness of her relationship with ‘Grampy Gus ’ her grandad. Played well by Eleanor Harrison but, occasionally, the projection went down and a few lines were lost.
Some good comedy from Terry Collister’s Gus, the mischievous and rebellious grandad in his rock T-Shirt, bomber jacket, base-ball cap and ponytail. Maybe some sunglasses, ear-plugs and Walkman would add to the look? He certainly had the cheekiness and swagger but some of those really good one liners were lost as they dropped off rather than being punched out. Really sell it – there are no subtle throw-aways.
There was an addition of a silent neighbour who appeared from time to time but I’m not sure it added to the plot as there was no purpose to the storyline.
This being the first night the pace was a little slow, which will no doubt pick up in subsequent performances but whilst the director had managed to move their cast around the space well enough, they really need to create the energy of the piece with a frenetic build to climax. The phone sequence was a little flat but probably more the fault of the script than the cast.
The Woolgathers certainly have some talent within their members and its sometimes hard to find scripts that offer a good stretch for actors and are still crowd pleasers. This capable cast entertained us with this ‘gentle’ romantic comedy but there was scope to be bolder and a little more outrageous.
Nobody’s Perfect runs until Saturday.
Reviewer: Bev Clark
Reviewed: 25 May 2023
North West End UK Rating: