by Alexandra Badea.
translated by Lucy Phelps.
The Arcola Studio, 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL to 27 May 2017.
Mon-Sat 8pm. Mat Sat 3.30pm/
Runs 90 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646
Review: William Russell 5 May.
A searing look at the cost of globalisation
Four bodies lie in an industrial wasteland. One by one they rise and what follows is effectively a series of monologues skilfully interwoven in which we follow each in turn, each being a cog in the world if international capitalism, the system that brings you those parcels from Amazon, those amazingly cheap clothes from Primark or the goods from pretty well every other chain store on line home delivery business there is.
The writing in this translation is crisp, the playing is immaculate, and Badea’s message hits home relentlessly. The developed world is exploiting the third world today as it has done since time began. Slavery is still prevalent, the only difference being that it is excused now by paying pittance wages, but we today live off and enjoy its produce every bit as much as did those Victorian merchants in the tobacco and cotton trade, while the factories where workers faced an uncertain future in dreadful conditions have simply shifted their location to the Far East or Africa. It is the world of the call centre, of profit before everything else, of impossible production line targets, of starvation wages.
The four bodies are employees of one of those global companies who pay no taxes and live in off shore limbo a law unto themselved. Rebecca Boey is the girl in Shanghai factory where everything is rigidly controlled, where targets must be met and training is done in the workers’ free time; Richard Corgan is the executive travelling the world from one sterile copycat five star hotel to the next, attending endless meetings and satisfying the boss upstairs while finding his family life is faling apart; Kate Miles is the engineer in Bucharest facing the same problems at work and with her family; and Solomon Isreal is the call centre team leader in Senegal chivvying his staff to toe the line, read the script and mouth the slogans while gulling the customer.
It makes its case about how communities are being destroyed and exploited by the world of capitalism in powerful theatrical terms. It could have been just a series of sermons, but the four players create distinctive characters and director Andy Sava has done a terrific job making what could have been simply static speechifying constantly interesting to watch.
Factory worker, Shanghai: Rebecca Boey.
Manager, Quality Assurance subcontractors, Lyon: Richard Corgan.
Call Centre team leader, Dakar: Solomon Isreal.
Research and Development Engineer, Bucharest: Kate Miles.
Director: Andy Sava.
Designer: Nicolai Hart-Hansen.
Lighting Designer: Tom Smith.
Sound & AV Designer: Ashley Ogden.
Movement Director: Lanre Malaolu.
Twitter – William Russell (@pursuivant)