by Daniel Andersen.
Southwark Playhouse (The Little) 77-85 Newington Causeway SE1 6BD To 13 December 2014.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr 55min One interval.
TICETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 November.
Re-fuelled for the age of Austerity, the office-comedy on vitriol.
If you want a symptom of England’s economic woes, look no further than Daniel Andersen’s new office comedy. Peopled by the people responsible for recruiting financial executives, Saxon Court Recruitment is populated by shiftless employees who pass bucks rather than making them, and offer cosmetic solutions to everything, from body enhancement to covering the bad smell from a blocked toilet.
The tone’s set by owner Donna, whose wayward rule is summed-up by believing the boss can do what she wants. Yet she’s as bad as anyone when it comes to evading responsibility or thinking only of herself, and ends-up using a pre-Christmas party-game as her method of selecting who she’ll sack.
Of so it seems; in fact she works through threats at any opposition, but when the music stops she goes for the right person. Who goes for her with a golf-club in desperation at theinformation. There are kinder ways of announcing bad news than Donna manages, but Donna doesn’t do kindness. This is a boss who locks people in, and passes any physical mess on to others for cleaning-up.
And this little lot, from the top recruiter, who shows how insistence and encouragement on the’ phone achieves results, to the no-hoper, combine amid their squabbles and competing to denounce the great unwashed protesting around St Paul’s.
Playwright Daniel Andersen is honest enough to give his selfish, narrow-minded characters elements of humanity. Despite a broadside against the protesters, expanding to anyone not like her, which might be a blast from the political Right if they had a tenth of the wit, Donna is concerned for her business partner’s health. And uninspiring Mervyn from the Dartford office brings a simple humanity to the metro-gloss and risk-taking opportunism.
Generally, though, the triumphalist vulgarity reinvents the 1980s, but with the added shadow of deficits and Austerity. The whole company could be partying on the edge of extinction.
Andersen knows the way power works at work, though not all his transitions convince, and some elements are more artfully used than others. What’s uniformly excellent is the pace and detailed reaction shown throughout by Melanie Spencer’s excellent cast.
Donna: Debra Baker.
Mervyn: Adam Brown.
Nat: Sophie Ellerby.
Tash: Alice Franklin.
Noel: Scott Hazell.
Joey: John Pickard.
Director: Melanie Spencer,
Designer: Tom Paris.
Lighting: Katherine Graham.
Sound: Tom Hackley.
Costume: Alice Woodward.
Assistant director: Zoe Sharp.