Number One Fan

Sep 17 2019 | By More

★★★☆☆      Deftly deceptive

Traverse Theatre: Tue 17 – Sat 21 Sept 2019
Review by Thom Dibdin

With A Play, A Pie and a Pint rocking the Sunday evening schedules on BBC Scotland, Number One Fan, the lunchtime offering at the Traverse until Saturday, proves that there is even more fun to be had in witnessing theatre in real life.

Not that veracity gets much of a look in, in Kim Millar’s cartoonish vamp of a comedy, brought to bawdy life by an exuberant and on form Joyce Falconer as menopausal Jan, whose hubby has just decided to look for firmer flesh to rock his night-time boat.

Joyce Falconer and Callum Cuthbertson. Pic: Leslie Black

It’s 16 years of marriage, three cats and two houses down the drain for Jan – not to mention what her reaction might precipitate at work, given that she is already on a second written warning.

Millar’s script gives Falconer cart blanche to play it straight to the gallery, as she strokes her cat on the breakfast bar and contemplates what it is that caused her husband to play away from home. And in particular, to look at younger women.

The cause is clear – Jack Bonham’s misogynistic newspaper column in which he derides the elder woman’s loss of sex appeal, writing weekly screeds about why elder men should date women young enough to be their descendants.

The ensuing revenge comedy is nicely constructed, working from pretty obvious scenes of domesticity and Jan’s cleverly engineered encounter with her nemesis up to some twists which work very well indeed.

louche, self-centred low-life

David McGowan puts in a steady shift as husband Andy, providing a suitable foil as Falconer is allowed space to break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience – a neat trick but one which doesn’t initially sit quite as comfortably as it could. Clearer definition from director April Chamberlain would help a lot.

Callum Cuthbertson presents his dark side as louche, self-centred low-life Jack Bonham. There is little that is surprising about his characterisation, but it is no less entertaining for it. Indeed, the slight underplaying coupled with Cuthbertson’s ability to exploit a certain puppyish charm, ensures that focus is never pulled too far from Falconer.

When Falconer puts her character into overdrive to contain and overcome Cuthbertson at his unctuous best, the results are hugely funny.

Overall the pacing is not as even as it might be. But there are enough well-placed one-liners to ensure that the ribaldry count is suitably high and the twists end with an outcome that is undeniably satisfying.

Running time 50 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED.
Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 Sep 2019
Daily 1pm; Fri 7pm
Tickets and details:  Book here.


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