Nina’s Got News (Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 12, 2018 in Theatre

Writer: Frank Skinner      Director: Polina Kalinina


Established for many years as a top comedian and television game show host and with a recent UK (perhaps excluding Scotland) number one hit in the pop charts, it would seem that Frank Skinner is close to having it all. That said, there have to be some worries for him if the real women in his life are as truly ghastly as the two horrors seen in this, his debut play.

The affable cheeky chap from the Black Country begins by asking whether it is possible for a couple to remain friends after they have parted and he answers with a secondary question – why ever would they want to? As played by Jessica Clark, Nina is dominating, manipulative and wholly self-centred. Rob Auton makes her ex, Chris, seem like the only man on Earth who would be fool enough to hang around Nina long enough for her to dump him; he comes across as an ineffectual, prematurely ejaculating jerk who still has visions of Nina’s private parts and even wants her back. Added to the mix is Nina’s obstreperous friend Vanessa (Breffni Holahan) who seems to take a contrary view on every issue just to start an argument.

Stringing together a succession of lewd wisecracks may work for a stand-up routine, of which we assume that Skinner has written many, but it is not enough to make a play. Even the gags dry up halfway through and Polina Kalinina’s static direction offers little to revive the piece as it drifts into babble about testing for genuine friendship. So what is Nina’s news? Well, she has discovered that she can levitate, although, sadly, her powers do not seem strong enough to take her crashing through the glass dome here and into outer space. For good measure, Vanessa reveals that she has X-ray vision. Poor Chris never stands a chance.

Whether this is a gentle comedy about relationships or the hoped-for beginning of an X-Women franchise, the writer seems unable to decide. There is just one piece of good news – the running time is only 50 minutes. For the rest and, for Skinner in particular, the news is all bad.

Performance date: 6 August 2018

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub:

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