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Getting personal in personnel
By Craig Clark
One of the stranger plays at Ipswich's Pulse Fringe Festival 2009 was one which was performed in one of the actual offices at the New Wolsey Theatre. Paperweight was produced by Top Of The World & billed as 'two men trapped in mindless office jobs'.
There was a sell-out audience of 20, crammed into a sweaty back office, perched on uncomfortable office chairs and tables – not quite what the audience had expected even if they knew it wasn't going to be in the New Wolsey's main auditorium.
The environment felt strange yet somehow familiar. It probably had something to do with my life working in an office.
As the humidity in the room increased, only a small fan kept us from total meltdown.
This dark and disturbing production provides a slightly twisted, but funny, view of a day in the life of two neurotic male Human Resources employees called Harold & Anthony.
Performed almost without dialogue, both arrive at work with very different agendas. Anthony arrives looking like the world is about to end, whilst Harold skips in with the optimism of life.
Soon they begin to crack. Their mundane work schedule results in several spiteful office pranks. In one, Harold sets up an elaborate 'Heath Robinson' trap involving balloons and drawing pins resulting in Harold physically abusing himself.
They both soon spiral deeper into neurotic behaviour, with Anthony finally losing his marbles and his dignity.
This piece definitely provoked an uncomfortable response from the audience - a response that touches the vulnerability within us all. I'm sure if we could glance into everyone's working life, including our own, we'd find lots of unhappy people just like Harold & Anthony.
There was a definite sense of pity leaking out from the audience as the piece progressed. At the end you couldn't help but ask the question, why did Harold lay on a bed of drawing pins and Anthony strip naked? Is office life really that bad?
In conclusion, the overall performance was excellently executed by two talented individuals, namely Tom Frankland & Sebastien Lawson. I really enjoyed this piece, but must confess I found the whole experience rather similar to Ricky Gervais's The Office.
(Paperweight was performed at the New Wolsey Theatre building on 30/31 May 2009. If you'd like to review other Pulse events then please email this website.)
last updated: 02/06/2009 at 19:01
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