Theatre review: Novel Experiments In Living

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There’s little point in critiquing Rob Paterson’s consistently inventively funny play as it does a pretty good job of doing so itself.

Star rating: ***

Venue: theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Venue 53)

A writer sits alone at a typewriter surrounded by scrunched up paper trying to produce a novel.

Every character he struggles to come up with is either simply just an idealised version of himself, a wish-fulfilment love interest or a terrible cliché.

There’s also little point in observing that this owes a large debt to Woody Allen’s early plays which toyed with meta-fiction, as our writer is a bespectacled, neurotic nebbish – and, yes, there is a rom-com scene involving cooking lobsters and references to Casablanca.

Similarly, it’s futile to point out that the play’s continually changing cast of characters frequently get trapped down blind alleys as they’re often the first to realise that themselves, and call out the writer for his lack of imagination.

With such a large, talented ensemble from Manchester University’s drama society keeping the play moving at a rapid clip it seems unfair to single out one actor so let’s do that. Tilly Woodhouse gives a terrifically funny performance as “The Critic” anchoring the whole show with fantastically narcissistic glee. Good to know critics are still good for something, anyway.

Until 26 August. Today 11pm.

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