By Katherine Soper
3 Stars ***
Jerwood Upstairs, Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8A to 11 February 2017
Mon – Sat 7.45pm Mat Thur & Sat 3pm.
Runs 1 hr 40 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7565 5000
Review: William Russell 13 January 2017.
Hard hitting piece about the zero hour contract world of work
Tamsin has found a job in one of those warehouses which dispatch goods to on line shoppers where the work conditions are appalling. There are ten hour days, inadequate work breaks, no easy access to toilets and endless demands to fulfil impossible targets. But it is all the nineteen year old can get, intelligent and willing to work though she is. Her seventeen year old brother Dean has obsessive compulsive disorder, is housebound endlessly washing himself in the bathroom, and she is his support. Their world falls apart when inevitably a phone call is not answered and officialdom removes his benefits. It is an impressive playwriting debut by Kathrine Soper and the performances could not be bettered.
Erin Doherty is splendidly resilient in the face of terrible odds as Tamsin, Joseph Quinn conveys Dean’s illness perfectly, and Aleksandar Mikic is very good as the kind hearted supervisor bound by the rules of those who run such places. Best of all, perhaps, is Shaquille Ali-Yebuah as Luke, the high spirited, slightly younger teenager on the production line who befriendsTamsin, explaining the insane rules that dominate their lives and helping her survive. He, however, is going to escape to college, she is doomed to toil on.
Katherine Soper is deservedly angry and certainly fights her corner. Wish List is effectively enough staged, but really cries out for somewhere more claustrophobic than the Jerwood space. The prison of the teenagers’ flat, the relentless routine of the production line, also a prison world, get blurred and unfortunately some of the lines get lost or are gabbled too fast for the acoustics of the theatre. The play, first seen at Manchester Royal Exchange last year, won the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting and one can certainly see why. Never again will I open one of those mail order parcels stuffed with too much paper without accepting someone else is paying the price for my convenience.
Luke: Shaquille Ali-Yebuah.
Tamsin: Erin Doherty.
The Lead: Aleksandar Mikic.
Dean: Joseph Quinn.
Director: M atthew Xia.
Lighting Designer: Ciaran Cunningham.
Designer: Ana Ines Jabares-Pita.
Composer & Sound Designer: Giles Thomas.
Assistant Director: Monique Touko.