Writer: John Osborne
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
Does what we watch on TV reveal more about us than we think? This funny and moving one-man show believes so.
Having the same name as one of the most famous British dramatists of the 20th Century must come as both a blessing and a curse for John Osborne, the young poet and storyteller, who is touring his new show Circled in the Radio Times this summer. But rather than a kitchen-sink drama full of angry young men, this Osborne gives us the cosy armchair and slippers of an old man who watches Inspector Morse and EastEnders on TV.
The old man in this show is Osborne’s grandfather, a man that his grandson remembers fondly. There are brief glimpses of the two in scenes such as those in a betting shop where Osborne as a boy is cajoled by his grandfather into stuffing as many small biros into his pockets as possible: These pens are needed to circle favourite TV programmes in the Radio Times, programmes that the two will watch later together.
Some years later Osborne is given his grandfather’s collection of the Radio Times, and Osborne comes to realise that perhaps he never really knew his grandfather after all. By studying his grandfather’s viewing habits, the shows he watched and the shows he missed, Osborne provides us with an alternative image of man who becomes chair-bound through bad health and old age.
Played out on an almost bare stage, the focus rests on Osborne’s skills as a storyteller. This 40-minute show isn’t about television, but about grief and how we navigate through it. It’s an elegy for not just those we have lost, but also for the way we once lived.
Runs until 29 May 2017 and then continues to tour