Windfall by Scooter Pietsch. The Large, Southwark Playhouse, 77 Newington Causeway, London SE1 to 11 March 2023. 2**. William Russell.

This alleged comedy about what happens after downtrodden office workers in some un-named location – the cast affect quasi American accents – doing what is never clear, but Glenn, their boss is a monster who bullies them, think they have won the lottery. It has been directed by Mark Bell who directed the extremely successful The Play that Goes Wrong. He has done it again. If ever a play went wrong Windfall is a prime example. The first act sees the four, Kate, the one who drinks and sleeps around, Hannah, the mouse with an abusive husband, Chris, the wimp who is always broke, and Galvan, the one who has religion and thinks he should be top dog, fall foul of their boss. Then in comes Jacqueline, chic and apparently posh – she isn’t – there to replace one of them. However they all bond when they find they play the lottery and hate Glenn. In the second act after they think the vision Galvan had about them winning starts to be disproved and each of them has been up to something anyway leads to bloodshed and violent assaults on each suspected cheat. By the end everyone is covered in blood, wounds of one kind or another and Glenn is apparently dead having been allowed to choke to death – with a little help from his staff.

Bell seems to see some sort of parallel with The Lord of the Flies, but that is pushing it a bit. It is a perfectly reasonable assumption that multi winners of the lottery on one ticket will fall out – greed is greed and the lottery is all about fulfilling one’s dreams by getting something for nothing. The cast do try hard to inject some life into the sorry material they have been landed with but given that the programme boasts the Playhouse is “all about telling stories and inspiring the next generation of storytellers and theatre makers” one does wonder why it staged this particular piece. The premise is fine, the development appalling and the violence quite disturbing to watch. Comedy can be violent but there are ways of making it acceptable.

The evening ends with a couple of surprises – this sort of plot always does – but unfortunately they can be seen coming a mile off so that is not so much a case of being surprised rather being taken aback that they were resorted to. From the start things go wrong.

Kate: Judith Amsenga.

Hannah: Audrey Anderson.

Glenn: Jack Bennett.

Jacqueline: Joanne Clifton.

Chris: Wesley Griffith.

Galvan: Gabriel Paul.

Jade: Ella Blackburn.

Director: Mark Bell.

Lighting Designer: Robbie Butler.

Fight Director: Dave Nolan.

Set & Costume Designer: Rachel Stone.

Production Photographs: Pamela Raith.

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