Mr. And Mrs.
By Keith Waterhouse
Based on The Diary of a Nobody
by George and Weedon Grossmith and
Mrs. Pooter's Diary by Keith Waterhouse
Directed by Robert Waterhouse
With Josephine Hogan
THREE AND A HALF STARS
"Hogan and Lambert are hapless and hilarious."
-The Buffalo News
Before “Going Rogue”, “Millie’s Book”, “Don’t Hassel the Hoff” and “Keeping Up Appearances,” there were the Pooters, the creation of the Victorian brothers George and Weedon Grossmith, whose 1892 classic novel The Diary of a Nobody is still considered one of the funniest books in the English language. The fictional diary of Charles Pooter, a self-important “senior clerk” who believes his puns and mishaps are worthy of publication, The Diary of a Nobody describes the Victorian era’s “blogger’s instinct,” as a perfectly ordinary, middle-class household relives life at The Laurels, Brickfield Terrace, North London.
The New Phoenix Theatre proudly presents Josephine Hogan and New Phoenix Founder Richard Lambert in the
American premiere of “A Victorian Entertainment”: MR. AND MRS. NOBODY, Keith Waterhouse’s hilarious and unique version for the stage of life at Brickfield Terrace. A charming, stylized comedy which premiered with Dame Judi Dench and Michael Williams in 1986, MR AND MRS NOBODY is adapted from both the 1892 Diary and Waterhouse’s own comic novel, Mrs. Pooter’s Diary, and balances the perspective of Charles Pooter with the subversive attempts of his wife, Carrie, to return to a quieter, less pretentious life in the suburbs. A subtle evocation of the kind of self-important follies that will be familiar to anyone who has tweeted, blogged, or written polished letters to a local newspaper. MR AND MRS NOBODY succeeds as both a highly theatrical, affectionate satire of Victorian pretentions and as a tour de force for two actors.
The New Phoenix Theatre’s premiere production was directed by artistic director Robert Waterhouse, son of the late playwright, and featured live original music by Steve Borowski; Kathleen Ashwell played the cello. The cast is
rounded out by Claire Spangenthal and Guy de Federici, and the design team included Dyan Burlingame (whose
set for IN THE NEXT ROOM, OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY won nominations for Outstanding Set Design and the Award for Outstanding Production at the recent Arties), Tom Makar (sound), Chris Cavanaugh (lighting), and Betsy Bittar (costumes).
Fast facts of interest:
• The Diary of a Nobody first appeared in serial form in the comic magazine Punch in 1892. The subsequent book has never been out of print.
• Like Gilbert and Sullivan (in whose works George Grossmith appeared often as a performer), George and
Weedon Grossmith were a familiar duo to Victorian audiences. Both were popular actors as well as writers.
Weedon was also a painter, and illustrated The Diary; George was a comic actor known for his work on the
music hall stage.
• The Victorian music hall was among the inspirations for this production of MR AND MRS NOBODY.
• The term “Pooterish” is still used to describe an overly fastidious, self-important person.
• The late Keith Waterhouse (1929-2010) remains one of England’s most-read novelists and playwrights. The author of Billy Liar, which subsequently became a play and film co-written by Waterhouse and Willis Hall, Waterhouse also wrote the hit plays Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell and Our Song. Both plays featured Peter O’Toole in their West End premieres, and both received American premieres in Buffalo under the direction of Robert Waterhouse.
• MR AND MRS NOBODY premiered at the Garrick Theatre with Dame Judi Dench and Michael Williams in 1986. A recent, subsequent tour was mounted by Patricia Routledge and Clive Swift, of the BBC series, “Keeping Up Appearances”
• Both The Diary of a Nobody and Waterhouse’s fiction were featured in Writing Britain, The British Library’s exhibit of literature documenting British life, which was mounted to compliment the 2012 Olympics.