James is the kind of man you’d call “a bit sad” if you were being charitable: a railway worker who’s never been on a train; an adult in a feud with a showy-offy child. But Idiot Child prise open the oyster, and give us the grit that makes this pearl of a man.
As James, Jimmy Whiteaker delivers a walloping punch of a performance. From the ridiculous to the pitiful, from the admirable to the heart-rending, James is a man who could put you to shame with his integrity, honesty and persistence.
Chris Gylee’s playful set, which includes a swimming pool of sweeties, reflects the All-Sorts nature of the piece: toys represent people; a Take-Hart paper plane-making session and Duncan Goodhew-focused visualization exercises. We seem to wander off at tangents, but we’re travelling with safe hands to our final destination.
Co-writers Whiteaker and Anna Harpin who also directs, have created a truly magnetic and unusual world that distils the inanity of everyday routine then adds the quiet little oddities that life throws up. It’s packed with fine detail, perhaps sometimes too sweet, but ultimately, it’s magical.
If you get a chance to meet James and hear his story, don’t walk on by - you’ll never forget this little something special.
I Could’ve Been Better, Bristol Old Vic Studio 3-6 & 9-13 October; Exeter Bike Shed 30 Oct-3 Nov; London Pleasance 13-18 Nov