Chris Avery reviews NOBODY'S PERFECT
Presented by Waterbeach Community Players

There's a lot of am dram about - the good (most of it) the bad (very rare) and the ah - interesting. Just occasionally I'm lucky enough to see the outstanding, and that was certainly the case with WCP's production of "Nobody's Perfect" by Simon Williams.

It's a classic will-they won't-they romantic comedy, featuring Leonard (James Dowson), a rather frumpy statistician, single parent and part time romantic novelist, and Harriet 9Rosie Wilson), a publisher of feminist fiction and reluctant connoisseur of, in Bridget Jones-speak, emotional fuckwits. Their fledgling relationship is complicated by the fact that Harriet remains in ignorance of the true identity of her star new author, Myrtle Banbury, and further complicated by the presence of Leonard's teenage daughter, Dee Dee, (Kattreeya Smith) and his ageing hippy father, Gus (Ken Eason).

The set was a clever mix of Leonard's sitting room, Harriet's office, and the front door of Leonard's flat. This apparently complex arrangement worked well, and it was always clear to the audience where the action was taking place. The set was well dressed, with careful attention to detail - the cluttered family sitting room, the smart and functional office, and the front door with amazingly realistic brick wall surround. The costumes told us all we needed to know about the characters before they even opened their mouths - I particularly liked (if that's the right word) Leonard's terrible sloppy washed out cardigan, and Dee Dee's amazing assortment of glittery tops. Leonard's transformation to Myrtle in the second act was a tour de fore in drag (nice legs, James! and well done for managing the high heels so well.) Direction was excellent - slick pacy dialogue throughout, but with the speed stepped up still further in a few exchanges. All the movements were entirely natural and convincing - there was none of the purposeless pacing which can often mar amateur productions. These actors moved when their characters needed to and weren't afraid to stand still when they didn't. One very small criticism though - Kattreeya has a habit of standing with one hand on hip, which can appear a little artificial. True, she was playing an occasionally stroppy teenager, so it could be argued that it was in character - but it seemed a little overdone.

This tiny criticism aside (and every reviewer has to justify their existence by finding something to carp about!) I have nothing but praise for all four actors (five counting the director, Stephen Smith, in a Hitchcockian cameo as a visiting vicar.) Rosie Wilson played with touching realism the part of an efficient businesswoman who, despite her high intelligence, can't seem to get it together in matters of the heart, while James Dowson ranged from poignant sincerity in describing his continued love for his ex wife, to high farce in his attempts to impersonate his alter ego, Myrtle. Kattreeya Smith and Ken Eason represented the opposite ends of the age scale in a warm and cohesive grandfather/granddaughter relationship, with a shared interest in nurturing Leonard and Harriet's stuttering romance. The final scene, involving the four of them swapping from one conversation to another on mobile phones and the flat's entryphone, was hilarious, especially with Leonard having to switch rapidly between his own persona and that of Myrtle, supposedly in the Outer Hebrides on a mobile phone, at times coming perilously close to having to be both of them at the same time! All four actors worked excellently together, whether in constantly changing combinations or as an ensemble. Many congratulations to them on an excellent performance, with not a single missed cue or fluffed line. This was a truly professional production, and I look forward to the next one.