F Scott Fitzgerald never really fulfilled his promise. He died prematurely. Although he left great work, thoughts linger on what might have been.
This seems an apt metaphor for Diamond Dick, from new student company PaperTape Theatre, a play said to be inspired by him. Some extracts from a supposed film script are linked together by improvised backstage chat from the actors, playing the film crew and cast.
The actors clearly enjoy the improvisations more than the scripted scenes and although they attack them with gusto and vim and not a little genuine wit, they run out of steam as the show progresses. This is because there is no narrative progression, so each improvised situation has not been set up carefully and specifically.
Also, the format never changes. Nor is there narrative arc in the plot; no discernible journey is travelled by the characters. And then some actors mumble their lines – a little technique would go a very long way.
So although this starts brightly and you hope for it to carry you off somewhere dark and interesting, it ends up meandering aimlessly, finally petering out in bathos, as the audience is not sure if the show is over – should they applaud, leave, wait for the next scene?
Someone had a great idea but didn’t know how to follow it through. Which is a crying shame, as there is the spark of something genuinely original here.