Diary of a Somebody ★★★★ Seven Dials Playhouse | Mar 22 - Apr 30, 2022

Diary of a Somebody is based on the writings of Joe Orton. His comic plays have become classics and the tragic story of his short life is absolutely compelling. The diaries which cover the eight months of Orton's life preceding his murder are the basis of both John Lahr's definitive biography and this theatrical adaptation. They provide a fascinating insight into the playwright's inspiration and his art. Chronicling the everyday events of his life – the death of his mother, the pretensions of his neighbours, the observations of strangers on a bus – Orton's notes become the fodder for his absurdist and ironic vision. But along with this source of his creativity, there is also the complicated relationship he has with his partner, Kenneth Halliwell. The latter is his mentor, muse, and finally his murderer, and it is their bond that is the pivotal subject of this thoughtfully produced drama. Because Orton's diaries describe rather than address the subject of their codependency we are left to infer its roots. However, George Kemp as Orton and Toby Osmond as Halliwell do a brilliant job of illuminating their powerful and visceral affinity. Kemp creates a revolutionary, free-spirited Orton whose need for Halliwell is coming into question as he grows into himself, while Osmond is wonderfully credible as the jealous, depressive and tormented Halliwell. Both actors completely engage us in the small world of the two dynamic and provocative central characters, and they are well-supported in this endeavour by the remainder of the strong cast who do a fine job of playing the wide variety of friends and acquaintances who populate the principals' lives. Indeed, Jemma Churchill is quite hilarious as Mrs Corden and Orton's alter ego, E. Welthorpe (Mrs). Diary of a Somebody is an intriguing look into the life and inspiration of a comic genius. Here's a play and production that is required viewing for lovers of theatre!

Rated ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Brittain Photography.

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