Chris Goode, The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley

Review in Issue 21-3 | Autumn 2009

The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley is an elegantly-turned storytelling show that demonstrates the sweetness and catholicism of Goode’s theatrical vision. A measured one-hander, Goode by turns narrates, and almost enacts the magical mundanity of teenage Shirley’s coming-of-age fantasy. The beautifully written script treads the delicate line between pleasing familiarity, near-nostalgia, for schooldays and 90s hits, and flights of magical realism. It’s a world in which you can spend your savings taxi-ing to the airport to try to tell your Medieval line-drawn hero what he has meant to you before he clanks off to struggle through security, but you’ll still have to spend four hours trudging home in the middle of the night (your parents won’t notice as they’re on holiday).

It’s a pleasingly uneasy mix, pulled off by Goode’s compassionate, almost diffident delivery. He’s a strange cuckoo in Janet Bird’s lovingly recreated teenage-bedroom set, driven by a narrative compunction whose tone sometimes seems to be channelling the spirit of Oliver Postgate. There are hints of something more subversive in this storytelling role – the writing is at its most intriguing when it gently reminds us of its own theatricality, suggesting some greater significance in the story, and uses its magic realism to admit some ambiguous emotional truths. Conversely, sometimes it struggles with some of the specificity of Woundman’s interactions and effects. This writerly form itself is so pervasive, however, that more theatrical elements, such as Adam Smith’s enjoyable but underused animations, and Goode’s always apt and elegant sound design, struggle to lift the piece beyond its narration.

More charming than challenging, this is nevertheless a hugely satisfying, warm and considered piece of work.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2009

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-3
p. 27