devised by The Lab Collective.

Theatre Delicatessen Marylebone Gardens 35 Marylebone High Street W1U 4QA To 23 February 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm.
Runs 1hr 25min No interval.

Review: Timothy Ramsden 9 February.

Short plays assembled with cumulative impact.
(If you know this venue, please excuse me for a paragraph. If not, take note that despite its name Marylebone Gardens is not, nowadays, a place of grass, trees and litter-bins. It’s a building, a former BBC studio complex, currently awaiting demolition but meanwhile a temporary performance space, located opposite Daunt Books and close to a distinct street lamp, probably the shortest and almost certainly the oldest in London.)

The Lab Collective’s Pinstripe Trilogy, formed from three independent pieces, looks pointedly at society through the prism of modern capitalism. In Matador a young city type draws us into a circle and, red-lined jacket swinging, proclaims his wealthy lifestyle, alternately seducing and challenging society matador-like. Body revolving as he challenges and questions us surrounding plebs, Neil Connolly’s bullish manner gradually turns to self-justifying rage as his fast-lane lifestyle falters.

Next door, Mark Fairclough’s tax inspector investigates an audience member’s supposed expenses claims. Drinking noticeably from a polystyrene cup redolent of a high street chain more noted for its lifestyle approach to selling coffee than for being forthcoming with appropriate amounts of corporation tax, Fairclough catches the pseudo-sympathetic investigation of someone whose questions probe while they reassure.

Hymning the heroes of social insurance and PAYE, Fairclough grows enraged at a complex tax system (11,000+ pages of it) that enables the rich to minimise tax, while he’s arguing over a claim for under £20. And it’s not just about figures, but how tax money contributes to society. This taxman, if not the system he must operate, has a conscience and Fairclough’s voyage from control to rage clearly makes its point.

In room three, Emma Britton provides a soft-soap hard-sell, her neatly-suited presenter, power-point to hand, offering a chance to buy into people. Trust Fund is rightly last on the list, showing capitalism owning lives: eating people, metaphorically, is no longer wrong.

Starting with a hypocritical pretence of social conscience, of overcoming deprivation for individual talented children (appearing on video to win hearts if not minds) by buying shares that will realise dividends from their future earnings, it’s the one piece here to introduce a challenging voice, though this only makes things bleaker. Money talks; objectors can shout but it’s clear who has the last word.

Ably performed throughout, both material and performances focus on the issue. Refracting skilfully through the evening, with Matador a kind of prologue to the contrasting approach of the succeeding pieces, The Lab Collective’s Trilogy uses 21st-century theatrical techniques to analyse 21st-century manifestations of politically-driven iniquity and inequality.

Neil Connolly.

The Beancounter
Mark Fairclough.

Trust Fund
Emma Britton, Matthew Haigh.

Directors: Joseph Thorpe, Natalie Scott.
Video: Thomas Yeomans.

2013-02-11 00:36:47

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