Wednesday, 5 August 2020

ONLINE THEATRE REVIEW: Doing The Book Club - Northern Comedy Theatre




First they did Shakespeare, then tackled a pub quiz, followed by hosting a murder mystery. Now, this hapless but hopeful ensemble were running a book club - I do apologise, "literary circle" - in the latest series of Zoom plays.

Once again, playwright David Spicer had written this comedy set against the backdrop of a group of friends, despite their perpetual disagreements, making the most of online resources and staying in touch with one another during this pandemic.

We welcomed back the familiar characters from the previous “Doing” series of plays each with their own book proposal ideas. Ebon had drawn his own graphic novel franchise called “Stick World” – demonstrating the highly technical art of stick figure drawing. A vampire fiction bestseller could have just been thought up by Rebecca. At the same time, Judith was writing a completely original and inimitable novel: it followed a young wizard called Harriet Botter. Finally, Terri wasn’t in the mood to read anything too booky. However, Terri’s inner book worm was revealed in a creative outburst later in the story.

Having watched this theatre company and playwright’s work for a third time now, they certainly have a fine understanding of their own comedy and performance style. The humour is character driven, topical, and geeky, with British wit. Especially as each play has covered British pastimes. The funniest gag in this play was Terri’s Northern pronunciation of the book title: “Our Souls In The Morning”, saying it more like “Argh souls”. You could tell the ensemble of actors were genuinely cracking up laughing at how she said it. This made it all the funnier. When Rebecca revealed the numerous “Our Souls…” book titles and Terri read them out, the outbreaks of laughter just escalated.

Spicer also asked the audience the questions: what is a proper book, and what is a good book? Unlike the “Pub Quiz” play, they used Zoom creatively in tonight’s production. When Terri began to perform her self-reflective soliloquy, everyone else’s screens froze temporarily to create the impression of a bad internet connection - leaving just Terri alone with her imaginative thoughts. It was a writer’s parallel universe ending. A world within a world; book within a book finish resembling the film “Inception”. The characters got confused as a result and humour was found in this. Overall, this was another agreeable play, I enjoyed this one just as much as the “Shakespeare” one.

Reviewer - Sam Lowe
on - 4/8/20

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