Review by Carmel Shortall
Nothing could be cuter – or is that more disturbing – than the sight of a grown man twitching his nose and grooming his whiskers with his little paws. This is the state that Darren gets into after his wife leaves him and he is continually denied contact with his daughter. Walking off his loneliness in the pouring rain one night, he spies a “palomino rodent beauty” – or hamster to you and me – in a pet shop window and has to have it.
Soon he is showering the hamster with expensive gifts, enjoying intimate chats over candlelit dinners and, most disturbingly of all, sidling up to its cage on the sofa and doing that ‘accidental arm-draping thing’ boys are supposed to do at the cinema. Before long he has more hamsters in Hamster Town, including one named Tim – after his ex-wife’s new husband – who he keeps in Hamster prison. No wonder his ex-wife wants to put the entire Atlantic Ocean between him and their daughter.
David Ralfe tells Darren’s story through a mixture of mime, physical theatre and a cornucopia of hamster-related props. He is a very likeable performer and doesn’t allow the more disturbing elements of Darren’s disintegration to overshadow the pathos.
If you want to see how Darren retrieves his sanity and attempts to rebuild a relationship with his daughter, you should head down to the Camden People’s Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Road, for one of the last two performances of Hamster Town on 16th and 17th August at 7.30pm.