Debs longs for excitement and passion in her life. Her husband has left her a sports widow and the kids have moved out of home, so her fantasies of illicit romances and passionate clinches are confined to the pages of her book club… or are they?
Set in middleclass suburbia, Prisoner Cell Block H star Amanda Muggleton gives a natural 90-minute performance in Roger Hall’s one woman show, with sheer credit to Muggleton’s undeniable stamina. She regularly breaks the fourth-wall to interact with the audience, making us members of her book club with elbow nudges, winks and knowing smiles. It exudes a friendly warmth and a feeling that you probably should have brought something wet or something dry to join the party.
As Muggleton retells the evenings of these women pouring over the pages of Fifty Shades or Anna Karenina, she characterises her friends with accents and mannerisms that provides light-hearted humour and funny anecdotes. Ok, so much of the humour is fairly obvious and there are a few eye-rolling jokes but there are certainly flashes of Victoria Wood in her story-telling and still had me chuckling along.
Bored, middle-aged women having affairs to add some spark into their lives is a story we’ve all heard before, and writer Roger Hall doesn’t attempt to add any alternative strands to the tale. There are similarities to Shirley Valentine, who Muggleton has played an innumerable amount of times and it’s clear to see why she was cast in the role.
Equally her performance feels wonderfully organic and almost like she isn’t acting at all. She has the ability to feed on live reactions and audience participation to add a freshness to the performance that changes night after night.
The Book Club doesn’t take itself too seriously and for an evening of easy watching and some momentary relief, it’s highly enjoyable.