Me, As A Penguin

The NNT Spring season opens with the theft of a penguin, amidst the backdrop of Hull’s gay scene.

The tone of Tom Wells’ Me, As A Penguin feels a bit like a late-night BBC3 sitcom, decommissioned after it’s first series. It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t quite have the scope for a metaphorical second series.

The plot, the theft of a penguin from an aquarium in a Transformers lunchbox never seems convincing. This was not helped by the fact the on-stage lunchbox didn’t seem to have any weight to it.

However, what the play lacked in compelling narrative, it made up for in comfortable humour and quick-witted one-liners, proving toilet humour is still funny, no matter how old you are.

The best scenes come from the relationship between Ellie Cawthorne and John Bell playing heavily pregnant Battenberg-addict Liz, and former Ikea employee and current sofa lover, Mark.

Unfortunately, when this duo were absent from the stage, the play lacked a certain energy and comic timing which they otherwise duly provided. Bell’s dry humour and sardonic wit played nicely when combined with Cawthorne’s forthright honesty.

Other comic moments were provided by doors which seemingly opened at will, mid-scene, and the appearance of an old woman sporadically between scenes which added nothing reflective, but some unusual knitting gags.

Even her absence, however extraneous, was felt between certain scene changes which instead involved the actors audibly shuffling around the stage in the dark, unaided by music, to assume positions for the next scene.

For all its smaller flaws, this was a well executed and cohesive production, which could have been improved with a slightly more compelling and entertaining script. The production team performed admirably with what they had to work with.

Credit is certainly due considering that everything has been created in the last two weeks, from casting and line learning to set building. That’s dedication.

Me, As A Penguin runs until Saturday, with shows at 7.30pm and a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets from £4 at the Nottingham New Theatre on campus, adjacent to the Portland Building.