amendments: A Play on Words
Middle-Weight Theatre Company
theSpace on North Bridge
Management speak is always searching for new ways to torment its workforce and in the fifty-minute satiric play amendments: A Play on Words, an unnamed corporation has created its own deranged version of appropriate language and behaviour.
And that is a problem for office worker John, who has been called to a meeting about something that may have happened when he worked late the night before. But, rather than getting directly to the point, John’s manager Patrick feels it necessary to talk over things that no longer fit the “compulsory guidelines” for company employees.
These include gender-specific words like “ladies and gentlemen” which don’t fit these more gender-fluid times, the use of metaphors since they could be misunderstood and the use of “intensifying adverbs” that might be construed as domineering.
All this is initially puzzling to John, who is finally told that a complaint has been made about him touching a woman colleague on the arm and calling her “dear”, though it is not the woman herself who has made the complaint.
Despite that, he is fast-tracked up the new ten-stage disciplinary process and ordered to attend training courses with titles such as “Knock Knock. Who’s there? Legal Action".
Matt Roberts as the uptight Patrick and Emerson Pike as the weary, put-upon everyman John have fine comedic timing that has the audience constantly laughing in the performance, while the subject matter had many arguing with each other afterwards.
If most of its length mocks the bureaucratic idiocy of management, there is, late in the play, a short, eloquent speech by Patrick, which, though seemingly out of character, is a persuasive justice argument for being more sensitive about the language we use. And if I found myself wanting more of that and a little less of the comedy routine, I certainly couldn’t complain about the entertainment value of the whole.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna