This production is perfect for a die-hard fan of the novel that has never been out of print despite its humble beginnings.
It’s interesting to note that while this novel has been adapted for stage and screen, it’s most well-known adaptions have been for radio with previous portrayals performed by Stephen Tomkinson and Johnny Vegas- and in these productions Mrs Pooter was present. These names were also mentioned in the programme I was handed and seemed like rather bad practice because I couldn’t help but bring these professionals to light while watching the production. Blue Fire Productions should revel in their individuality and embrace their own approach.
This evening’s slim line production stars Andy Smith as Mr Pooter, the nobody of the title, firmly situated in the 1892 of its original publishing date. The lower middle class Mr Pooter finds himself on the wrong side of society wherever he goes, from mishaps in high society to misunderstandings with the local tradesman. He’s the epitome of every nobody trying to be a somebody.
Although set in the distant year of the late 19th century, a lot of Tim Shaw’s text resonates with the modern day audience. Charles and Carrie’s son, William Pooter now wishes to be known as Lupin and not the family name William he has been bestowed. An act of youthful rebellion we all recognise, even in the 19th century context. Mirroring generation z’s great resignation, Lupin has decided his role as a bank clerk in Oldham is not for him and has resigned, much to the horror of his parents- I’m sure it’s a theme the parents of young people in the audience can attest to.
Smith’s one man portrays of Charles Pooter is rooted in a naturalistic approach. It is almost as if we have been invited into his drawing room to recollect the tales of embarrassment and dismay from the past fifteen months. Smith’s Pooter strides in and sits… and sits… and sits for the rest of the evening. Yes, Smith delivers some consummate portrayals of a variety of accents, including an American one, but the drama ventures little from here. On one hand this is a refreshing break of the somewhat debauchery of The Fringe. At other’s it feels like all we are listening to is an audiobook introspectively delving into its own twee-ness. Armed with only reading items as props- the diary and various letters, the sinks throughout the production.
Performed as a one-man monologue, this production is for people who really love George and Weedon Grossmith’s original novel. Stumbling across it in the depths of the Fringe without prior knowledge of the novel is to come across a unique fan club of audience members who hold on to Smith’s every word and lap up the comical goings on of the 19th century middle classes. What a gem if you already admire the work!
This production runs until the 27th August, https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22The%20Diary%20of%20a%20Nobody%22
Reviewer: Melissa Jones
Reviewed: 19th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★