Now Maybe Sunbeam
With Wake & Sing, Flying Solo! produced a funny if disturbing look at the morality of choices made during lockdown. With Now Maybe Sunbeam, the company examines the impact of imposed isolation upon someone accustomed to working in an office community.
An officer worker (unnamed and played by Ron Zank) is ranked as an excellent officer in his staff appraisals. He is perturbed, therefore, to receive a clearly-worded but somehow vague e-mail from Human Resources requesting he participate in a Zoom conference. As he prepares for the conference, the worker reflects on how lockdown has changed his routine and is distracted by the behaviour of the cats he has fostered for the duration of the crisis. For the viewer, watching the worker prepare, it gradually becomes apparent why HR wants to talk to him.
Justin Maxwell’s script is well-observed; struggling to articulate why the obvious benefits of home working (reduced commuting time and saving on petrol) somehow do not compensate for the disruption to lifestyle prompted by the closure of facilities such as gyms. Maxwell is fully aware complaining about the disruption to office routines sounds ridiculous but demonstrates the detrimental impact upon the individual in a very convincing way.
Director Season Ellison reveals the symptoms of the worker’s psychosis in a direct but understated manner so that initially the clue is overlooked. Only gradually does a feeling of unease creep up on the viewer as awareness of what is going on becomes clear.
The success of Now Maybe Sunbeam is, however, dependent upon a tremendous performance from Ron Zank. Considering the limitations with which he must cope—sat in the centre of the screen with scant movement possible—Zank does a remarkable job at conveying the loss of focus and growing fear experienced by the office worker. Although ashamed, Zank has a dignified, even offended tone; fully aware his coping mechanism cannot be considered normal by conventional standards but feeling it might be justified by the bizarre circumstances of lockdown. In the ‘new normal’, it is implied the old rules may be out of date and organisations as well as individuals might have to adapt.
It is impossible to watch Now Maybe Sunbeam without feeling sympathy, even grudging admiration for the nameless office worker—as well as a fear that the same fate may await the rest of us.
Reviewer: David Cunningham