We all crave our 15 minutes of fame and George Pooter, Victorian clerk and fanatical bore, decides that he too should not go unnoticed. He declares, “I fail to see that because I do not happen to be a ‘somebody’ why my diary should not be interesting.”
Pooter takes great pride in recording the day to day happenings of his very normal life; watching his cress and mustard plants grow (or not grow), ordering sides of mutton and realigning the stair carpets. It’s lucky for the audience that Pooter has not an ounce of self-awareness; if he did, he might actually try to do something interesting. And for us the boundless comedy of this piece arises from the stark difference between his own sense of importance and his very ridiculous, gaffe-laden life.
In this revival of the classic Victorian novel Rough Haired Pointer draw out the sketch quality of the original. The story of George Pooter began its life as a series in Punch magazine, and the adaptation on the small Kings Head stage does have a certain skit-like quality to it. Perhaps this comes from George Fouracres, who has performed with the Cambridge Footlights and who has a Pythonesque aura is his exaggerated facial expressions.
But it’s Jordan Mallory Skinner with his excellent portrayal of Pooter’s long suffering wife, Carrie, who gives a clear sense of the difference between Pooter’s diary and the reality of his life. His quiet, still performance shows Carrie grimacing through Pooter’s buffooneries until she is pushed too far and becomes a storming ferocity on stage. Indeed the whole cast are a dab hand at farce and their fast-paced acting builds up to some very comical- and very ridiculous- moments. And, while they are clearly talented, the onslaught of silliness is a bit unrelenting at times, and it might have good to see a fuller range of tones in this piece. After all, George is a pitiful character and giving the audience a chance to feel this would have only increased the humour, in contrast.