Sam McArdle plays 'the manny', a male nanny working for rich, single women in West London. He is a charmer, charming his employers, his charges and the women on dating apps he wants to sleep with. But 'living the life' isn't all it's cracked up to be.
In a solo performance, McArdle weaves the narrative, switching between scenes in his working life and social life.
He lands a mostly cushy job except for difficult-to-charm 7-year-old Michael. McArdle has a witty take on child care and amusing observations of the children of the rich, presumably gleaned from his time working as a male nanny.
His fictional Manny uses his own brand of charm to win over parents and other mums at the school gates.
Outside of work, casual sex takes a back seat when, bored and lonely one day, he ends up at a community improv class and falls for teacher Molly, an out-of-work actress.
Molly is in a relationship and doesn't fall for his charms, but he is smitten. He starts to feel deeper human connections and a sense of community, there is encouragement and support in the group, both of which have been absent from his own circle of friends.
But not everything works out the way he wants.
While the first half of the play is full of laughs, the second half has a growing shadow. The irony is less comic but darker and more poignant.
The switch between work life story and social life starts to get a bit scrappy towards the end: there isn't quite enough meat in the work-life story, but it is a minor quibble.
The Manny looks at male loneliness and the nature of friendships; it is an enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny play with honest observations making for a more emotional and occasionally raw final act.
I'm giving it ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
The Manny, King's Head Theatre
Written and performed by Sam McArdle
Directed by Mel Fullbrook
Running time: 70 minutes without an interval.
Booking until 14 January; for more details and tickets, visit the King's Head Theatre website
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Othello, National Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ booking until 21 January