WANTED MAN
Scotsman Assembly, Edinburgh
August, 2000

Toby Jones has been branching out of late from his base as one of the finest visual comedy actors of his generation. Wanted Man starts with a prolonged, wordless sequence in which Jones's character, middle-aged suburban nobody John Jump, potters around the garden shed which is his little den, constantly getting distracted from various little tasks then circling back to them before butterflying off again; however, it uses this mode only as a springboard. With the arrival of John's neighbour Derek (Edward Woodall, a fine foil to Jones), things move first into almost Ayckbournian territory as inconsequential dialogue hints at more disturbing waters beneath, then towards storytelling as John unravels a skein of knotted-together fantasies.

As Jones's John tells first of the affair he has been conducting in his dreams, then of the alter ego he has constructed, then of his quest to locate this character as if he were a living person, Woodall becomes a kind of faithful companion along the way, scrambling around the shed after his friend and helping act out the events he recounts. The climactic account of a party inhabited by every conceivable star, is peppered with names guaranteed to arouse nostalgia-comedy in thos of a certain age, from Victoria principal to Vitas Gerulaitas. A beautifully conceived and executed miniature.

Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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