MR AND MRS NOBODY
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Monday 12th December, 2011
Keith Waterhouse’s adaptation of The Diary of A Nobody is a low-key two-hander that depends on the actors to bring out its charm.
As Mr and Mrs Charles Pooter, Chris Garner and Susie Brann, are never short on charm. Sitting at their respective desks they narrate and recount a year (or so) in their lives, their trials and tribulations as they cling to their rung on the social ladder. Their problems are trivial, forerunners of the Twitter hashtag #middleclassnightmares and while these people are held up for the purposes of our amusement, we can’t help taking a liking to them, especially when they are so well presented as in this production.
Chris Garner’s Pooter is a self-satisfied boor, prone to ill-advised puns (again I refer you to Twitter and my own feed) painting anything that isn’t nailed down and drinking too much at social gatherings. He is often at odds with his wife, portrayed with a simple elegance by Susie Brann, a long-suffering woman who keeps the household ticking along, despite her husband’s misplaced sense of self-importance.
Other characters come into play in much the same way as when someone tells a joke and ‘does the voices’ but these personations are enough to sketch out the details of the Pooters’ milieu: Charles’s crass companions, the imperious employer, the drunken servant… This is the world of the great British sitcom a hundred years before Terry & June with aspirations thwarted and mobility denied. They are nice people brought down by their own preoccupation with social standing. Paul Milton’s direction maintains a quick pace and a lightness of touch, while Waterhouse’s script captures the tone and spirit of the classic comic novel.
A small-scale, low budget production in the Everyman’s Studio space, this was as engaging and entertaining an evening of theatre as any I’ve seen in the main house.