I decided to see Frank Skinner’s BBC Arts-funded debut play on a whim, driven by a rainy Fringe Sunday.
Nina, newly split from shambling boyfriend Chris, has invited him back to her house along with friend Vanessa to hear the important news of the title. Chris, played by Rob Auton, has a laddish attitude towards Nina, and a lot of her comebacks are clearly informed by the modern #MeToo movement. Skinner is subtle in his approach, though â€“ his messages never feel heavy-handed. We learn Chris has been counting the days since he last slept with Nina and keeps a lock of her hair in an After Eights box, which is both cringey and somewhat heartbreaking.
Vanessa is a no filter, ballsy friend, played by Breffni Holahan, who bounces off Jessica Clark’s Nina and aims digs at Chris in glorious fashion. Dialogue sparkles with razor-sharp observations on sex, gender, and faith. A personal highlight was Nina declaring ‘you’ll be in my heart, just not in my vagina’. (I think this play is the most I’ve ever heard a vagina mentioned, which is quite the achievement and a good indicator of the play’s tone.)
When Nina finally announces the news, it wasn’t what I expected (a pregnancy or terminal disease) â€“ it was much more surreal, but I won’t spoil the surprise. Yet the actors persuade you that Nina’s revelation could be plausible, if like Chris you believe in your friends. My only criticism would be that the ending felt somewhat abrupt.
If Skinner has designs on returning to the sitcom world, Nina’s Got News is a firm step on that ladder.
Pleasance Dome until 26th August
Ages 14+ (storng language and adult themes)