It’s not often that I thank my lucky stars for Geoffrey Palmer, star of As Time Goes By. Every two or three days at the most. Last night was certainly one of those moments, as Palmer performed the role of the Hermit Crab who just – just – about saved Tidal Talk from the Rock Pool from being a complete waste of 30 minutes.
“Very funny salty tales”, the flattering iPlayer blurb says. Fifteen minutes in, unimpressed by a Periwinkle’s awkward humour, and there is barely enough time left to turn this show around, let alone make it ‘very funny’. Without seeing the script, written by Lynne Truss, it’s difficult to confirm whether it was the performance or writing that I disliked most, but I’m certainly in no hurry to get my hands on it. Off goes Bill Wallis, mollusk monologue complete, and he’s succeeded at centre-stage by Palmer, ready to fulfil the crab role.
Telling the story of a Hermit Crab seems to come very naturally to him, and Tidal Talk from the Rock Pool suddenly becomes believable. Not ‘very funny’, sure, but we’re getting somewhere. There’s something all too familiar about the Hermit’s life, and a lot of the laughs come from that reflection of human struggle. Needless to say this wasn’t so present in the story of a Periwinkle coming out of a Seagull’s arse in the previous half.
“Not a bad story is?” says the Periwinkle.
“Yes. Yes, it is.” says the listener.