Wildfire: Phoenix Theatre.
DIANA RIGG spends the evening in the psychiatrists' chair in Wildfire at the Phoenix Theatre. And so does the audience. The drama takes place in a New York prison where a young non-believing Jewish psychiatrist (Kevin McNally) attempts to unravel the religious hang ups of a slick Manhattan PR lady, accused of burning down her home, and her father with it. Diana Rigg's mock American accent seemed to constrain her vocal range and stifle the ironic inflections. It is only when she is pretending to be Joan of Arc (and quoting from another play) that her real
power shines through.
The valiant young psychiatrist has to try to establish whether she is mad or just bad. He gets very tired, which is understandable given the sea sickness inducing qualities of the frequent up and down motions of the scene shifting.
Mr and Mrs Nobody by Keith Waterhouse (Garrick).
IN THEIR Diary of a Nobody. George and Weedon Grossmith described the life of a middleaged, middle-class, suburban Victorian Mr Pooter, through his own eyes.
Keith Waterhouse seized upon their formula to create a companion volume Mrs Pooter's Diary. He has amalgamated his work with its
inspiration and dramatised the combination as Mr and Mrs Nobody.
Unfortunately, much of the humour of the original source derived from the irony of the importance ascribed by Mr Pooter to his uneventful life. The inactive nature of the diaries leaves little dramatic potential.
Despite the play's limitations, Judi Dench and Michael Williams give performances which elicit our sympathy and maintain the humour. They are reduced to conjuring up supporting characters through imitation, one-sided conversations, and resorting, in the main, to reading extracts from their diaries — even cardboard cut outs are used.
Mr Waterhouse has written a potentially good radio play.
A funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.
Frankie Howerd has just been transferred to the West End after a successful opening at the Chichester Festival. Obviously loving every minute on stage, Mr Howerd handles his audience with his usual skill, as he delivers his lines with perfect timing and ad libs at every opportunity.
When the long running show first opened in 1964, he played the same part, Pseudolus, a Roman slave, and won the critics awards for Best Musical Actor. Another slave, Hysterium, otherwise known as Ronnie Stevens, is most entertaining, especially when he is dressed as a girl decoy and launches into a duet "I'm lovely" with Frankie Howerd. It's a refreshingly ridiculous
musical comedy. CS