A Living

Caroline Liversidge
Developed with support from ARC Stockton
Stage 3 at Northern Stage, Newcastle

A Living

Caroline has five jobs. She needs that many to live because every single one of them is a zero hours contract.

Inspired (definitely not the right word in this context—perhaps 'driven' might be better) by this, she started finding out a few statistics about our working lives, our work/life balance and other interesting things such as how long it would take her to earn enough money to be able to buy her own house (the answer’s never, in case you’re wondering, not if she wants to eat and buy clothes and stuff as well).

She has lots of statistics, in fact, and tells us them all, which would seem to be a sure way to send an audience to sleep in short order. Unless, of course, it is part of a rabble-rousing political polemic, a call to arms against rampant capitalism’s exploitation of the work force. But it isn’t.

What it is, is Ms Liversidge talking to the audience in a friendly, charming (I know it’s an old-fashioned word but it applies here) and amusing way. It’s light-hearted: we laughed a lot. Her explanation of how companies grow, using jugs of various sizes and dozens of plastic counters as an illustration, is really funny, and the “man” and “woman” she uses to illustrate a couple of points later on are… Well, let’s not spoil the moments but they involve, inter alia, a mic stand’s boom arm and a clothes hanger.

So is that it? A rather nice young (she’s 25; she kept telling us that) lady keeping us amused on the subject of money and work for a little under an hour?

In fact, that’s actually a hell of an achievement. All credit to Liversidge and her director, Anna Ryder, because, in spite of the subject’s potential for boredom, our interest never wavered, and, what is most important of all, without any rhetoric or passionate agitation, we came away quite convinced that the whole system under which we live is rotten and I, for one, ended up feeling glad that I'm at my stage of life and not hers. And we got to that conclusion by being entertained!

Reviewer: Peter Lathan

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