The Diary of a Nobody is one of those books you’re convinced you’ve read, until you see it staged and realise that either you’ve forgotten it, or the director had a completely different idea.   In the case of Rough Haired Pointer‘s revival at the King’s Head, both.

I’m doubly disappointed because their The Young Visiters was an absolute frolic, with lightness of touch and a witty and faithful adherence to the original childish novella, and this Diary of a Nobody got a swathe of 4 and 5 star accolades when it was last in the same theatre in 2015.  Since then, it’s been re-directed by RHP’s assistant director and now moves at a pace which manages to be both glacial and staccato, lurching from sketch to sketch like a Monty Python script done by amateurs.

The four actors aren’t amateurs, though, and unless this is now a homage to The Play That Goes Wrong or Shit-Faced Shakespeare, someone needs to release them to deliver the lines at a much sharper clip and not to pause for laughs that don’t come.

The Diary of a Nobody, written by the Grossmith brothers in 1892 parodies the self-important diary format of Samuel Pepys while recording the extreme ordinariness of dreary suburbanites Mr and Mrs Pooter for whom a visit from the butcher’s boy with a leg of mutton is a highlight of their existence.  Apart from Jake Curran consistently as Mr Pooter, the three other guys play all the other parts, including Mrs Pooter who really ought to be portrayed by a female.  Didn’t Judi Dench have a good go at it once?  Jordan Mallory-Skinner is not an improvement, nor is the concept that a broad-shouldered six-footer like George Wright should play the housemaid either cutting edge theatre or ribald wit.

The cartoonish setting has an initial charm, with costumes and set all in white outlined with black, but the music is intrusive to the point of annoyance and a running gag that the stage floods with red light every time someone mentions the ironmonger, is lame to the point of needing calipers.  In the second half the Pooters venture to Peckham for dinner, with contemporary references to ‘get your knives and shooters here’ which – like a spoof of Adam Spreadbury-Maher‘s standard fundraising speech before every King’s Head show – at least showed a spark of post-Python confidence.

But too little, too late.

until 18 November