The Fringe cliché about performing to an audience of two men and a dog is every company’s nightmare. Unfortunately it was in these - less than ideal - circumstances that I saw There Is Absolutely Nothing Wrong With Oscar Pike. Only there was no dog present. Just one other woman, and myself.
Paul Richards plays Oscar Pike, a feckless and self-obsessed poet who has just been dumped by his girlfriend (Grace Williams) and finds himself alone and friendless on New Years Eve, booted out of his lodgings so that his eccentric landlady (Izzy Rees) can throw a shindig. Oscar’s mild shortcomings (and the odd positive impulse or two) are explored through interactions with an assortment of minor characters and are of minor interest - is he really a total plonker? Does he find love at the end? What do you think?
The production is not awful. The actors do a solid job – though all could afford to up the energy and pace. The staging is bare bones – minimal set, props, and sounds are sufficient to provide the world in which the story takes place. The script is mildly funny and occasionally witty, swinging between wacky escapades and Hugh-Grant-esque stammering and understatement. The blocking is all very back and forth along a single line – not much deliberation has gone into stage pictures or visuals – but the story is delivered; essentially this is the text handed over to you with minimal fuss.
One wonders: had the writer not also played the main role, or if the director had not also played the love interest, could the company have had a bit more variety in interpretation and staging? Not a bad effort, though with nothing particular to recommend it.