Nicholas is a critically acclaimed author, a literary genius, and a winner of no less than fourteen Man Booker prizes…except that all of his novels were actually written by his wife. Now that she’s left him for the local butcher, Nicholas finds himself embroiled in an mad scheme to win back the love of his life (and, of course, his literary career), as he attempts to save Nicola from the clutches of a potentially dangerous ‘midlife crisis’.
And so begins Bad Nick, a 70-minute play at the Michael Pilch Studio that is packed to the brim with laughs and even has the odd song thrown in for good measure! If the singing is at times a little patchy then it does nothing but add to the delight of a show that refuses to take itself too seriously. Throwing caution to the wind, the play relishes in calamity and the ridiculous incompetence of its characters.
With minimalist staging, all focus is honed in upon the actors who deliver Shepherd-Cross and Brown’s script with impeccable comic timing. Harry Berry is perfect as the exasperated, yet excitable, Nicholas Martin. With an ability to elicit laughter with nothing more than a kooky grin and a 90s hairdo, Berry radiates a loveable charm that helps buoy a remarkably hopeless character, unable to write so much as a semi-colon. Amelia Holt offers a wonderful counterbalance as the brilliant Nicola Martin, a vexed author trapped in an industry where it seems impossible for a woman to have written such thoughtful works of literature. Thankfully, the character of Nicola resists the frustratingly common trope of the comedy’s dull and rational female voice, and Holt does well to convey a character whose absurdity is an equal match to that of her husband.
Their son, played by Sam Scruton, helps deliver a resounding highlight of the show in the form of a hilariously twisted rendition of ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’ alongside Cameron Forbes as the butcher. Meanwhile the dynamic duo, Emily Lockyer and Rory Wilson, run riot as two police officers more concerned with petty intellectual theft than any of the other, more glaring crimes that take place. Whether they take on the role of a crafty editor or a confounded journalist, there is no weak link in the cast as they shift between one blundering character to the next. Particularly brilliant was Cameron Forbes’ rendition of a melodramatic vicar belting out his impassioned power ballad.
Whilst seeming to throw itself into humour with reckless abandon, Bad Nick is a well-structured and well-executed comedy. Running jokes recurred frequently enough to push humour to new heights without letting the jokes themselves go stale. Fast-paced and funny, Frog’s Legs’ production of Bad Nick is effortlessly witty and engaging.