Tag Archives: Jake Curran

Review of The Diary of a Nobody – 4 Stars


The Diary of a Nobody

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 2nd November 2017



“There is a raw Python-esque quality – with an infectious sense of fun”


Everybody has heard of, if not actually read, the Victorian comic novel, “The Diary of a Nobody”. Like many a classic that has stood the test of time it was a slow burner, but managed to transcend its initial tepid reception, eventually being heralded by Evelyn Waugh as “the funniest book in the world”. Such an accolade is debatable, yet, along with the seemingly pedestrian subject matter of the novel, it is a brave choice to adapt it for the stage in the twenty-first century. ‘Rough Haired Pointer’ admirably pulls this off with this second outing of the piece at the King’s Head Theatre. What the inventive theatre company does extraordinarily well is retain the essence of the novel and its period, while seamlessly shaping it with their own personalities. The resulting mix of self-deprecation and irreverence yields a rich contemporary feel; a kind of satire of a satire.


The diaries centre around the fictional author, Charles Pooter, a man of modest ambitions, content with his humdrum life. Yet he is constantly troubled by disagreeable tradesmen, impertinent young office clerks and wayward friends, not to mention his devil-may-care son Lupin with his unsuitable choice of bride. Jake Curran captures the bumbling, absurd, yet ultimately endearing character of Pooter perfectly. Pages of the original text are condensed into a ‘blink-and-you-miss-it’ facial expression or a perfectly timed pause, conveying the underlying astonishment at his own banality.

Mary Franklin, who directs, clearly has an eye for casting. All four of the all-male troupe are excellent in their roles, often taking on multiple personalities. Interestingly, this idea was accidental: the loss of the sole actress due to an emergency after the opening night left the original production with an all-male cast performing all the characters. I don’t know if these four actors were in the original show, but onstage they betray a longstanding camaraderie that is a joy to watch. There is a raw Python-esque quality – with an infectious sense of fun. Jordan Mallory-Skinner plays Pooter’s long-suffering wife with a deadpan quality that illustrates her irritation to her husband to great effect, there is a touch of the young Michael Palin about Loz Keystone’s Lupin and Geordie Wright’s versatility is a roller coaster ride of multiple roles.


Christopher Hone’s ingenious design is almost like a fifth character in the show. Based on the original black and white illustrations from the diaries, the set and costume add surrealism to the action, giving license for the cast to drift into the realms of cartoon, sometimes becoming part of the set themselves, and sometimes stepping out of the set to break the fourth wall.

Like the set, the show does have the overall feel of a sketch however. This is perhaps my only reservation, in that it could benefit from being condensed. But it is a very minor quibble. What sets this show apart from many contemporary comedies is the self-effacing knowledge that it is all just play acting, and the performers embrace this with a great spirit of mischief. They are clearly having a ball. And so are the audience.

Despite being spun just a little too thin, this show is pure gold.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans




is at The King’s Head Theatre until 18th November



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A Haunting – 4*

A Haunting

Vault Festival

Press Night – 16 February 2017


“Original, chilling and hugely entertaining”

The shows we’ve seen at this year’s Vault festival have fallen neatly into two categories – those ‘needing a lot of work’, and those that are pretty pleasing already. Nathan Lucky Wood’s A Haunting falls directly into the upper ends of the latter – not altogether surprising as it had run previously to mainly positive reviews at the King’s Head Theatre.

For this transfer, A Haunting is staged in one the Vault’s most atmospheric locations, The Pit, which perfectly evokes the chilling content of the play. If you’ve never visited the Vault Theatre, it is a hidden marvel with a labyrinth like array of performance spaces belied by its slightly insalubrious looking location.

The plot of  A Haunting explores the world of teenager Mark (Roly Botha), who like so many of his generation, whiles away the hours in an online gaming world. It’s in this world he encounters ‘Ghost’ (Jake Curran – the only cast member reprising his role from the King’s Head original),  at first just a faceless game-mate on Counterstrike but soon someone we start to question the motives of, which appear to be becoming more and more sinister…

When Ghost finally succeeds in cajoling Mark into meeting, there’s a certain assumption that you know what’s going to happen next. But A Haunting throws you a curve ball, this is not a straightforward tale of a confused teenager being groomed.

With errant parents, a father barely mentioned and a mother (Izabella Urbanowicz) blinkered to what’s happening to her son, Mark’s life appears to be in danger. Lured into the woods late at night, this is edge of your seat tension at its finest.

Teasingly the show leaves some questions unanswered and its ending open to interpretation by the audience.

Jake Curran plays the creepily unstable Ghost character so convincingly at times its frightening, whilst Izabella Urbanowicz as Mark’s mother Anna comes into her own when she finally realises the mortal danger her son may be in. Stand out performance though goes to Roly Botha, one of the brightest young acting talents around at the moment; you can genuinely feel for and believe in his character.

A Haunting has an all too short run – ending Sunday 19th February. But this is one of those shows, you just know will make a return. And return it must. Original, chilling and hugely entertaining.




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