Every now and then a gem of a play appears at the Lowry Studio; a perfectly formed, short, fast paced and funny production which you want to tell all your friends about. The wonderful Me, As a Penguin fits this description perfectly.
Hull-based Tom Wells' writing has something about it, which makes this comedy-drama very accessible and heart-warming. His lines like: "I don't even like sex, I prefer a nice yoghurt" have shades of Victoria Wood, yet do not sound borrowed, as there is something real about the poignancy which the actors bring to the dialogue.
Stitch (Ian Bonar) is battling with his true self. Gay, but not really into going out and clubbing, he much prefers to nervously knit his way out of life. Staying with his sister Samantha Power and her partner Mark (John Catterall), his life consists of sleeping on the couch, wishing someone or something better will come along. He is introduced to Mark's friend Dave (Daniel Abelson) and this turns out to be a disaster. Looking for love, but finding a rude, neanderthal man, Stitch decides to do something so off the wall, that I will not ruin this section of the play.
Me, As a Penguin is only one hour in length but it contains more humour, drama and emotion than many plays lasting three times as long. Wells' writing is sharp, filled with quotable lines and has a resonance as it's rooted in reality. The cast are all superb. Bonar is totally believable as the shy and worried Stich. He is ably matched by Power as his feisty Sis, and Catterall as her lovable partner. Abelson steals his scene as Dave, a gay man who subverts many stereotypes, in that he is essentially a man first, gay second.
Chris Hill directs the play with precision and pace and therefore, you never feel short changed as the characters remain fully rounded as we spend time with them all, equally.
Me, As a Penguin is one of those plays that stays with you, as it ticks all the boxes. The only flaw is it's so good, like Oliver Twist, you'll end up wanting more. I will certainly rush to see anything by Tom Wells again.