Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Out of Office - behind the scenes

Simon Warne
C Company
Bridewell Theatre
(2009)

Production photo

Out of Office - behind the scenes is a seasonal dollop of fun that combines all the complications and exploits of the office party with amateur panto.

The premise is contrived, as it nearly always is with farce, but once you have come to terms with the improbability that a business would stage a panto to entertain clients as an alternative to a Christmas party, then there is a lot of fun to be had with it.

With the role of Cinderella going to dumb blonde administrator Nuala, and that of Charming being taken by the office lothario George, it is down to the two bosses Jacqui and Kim to be the Ugly Sisters. Doing the lighting there is a real-life Cinderella in the form of overlooked and put upon Matt from IT, who is still in love with his ex, Nuala, who in turn only has eyes for Simon, the actor-turned-team building consultant who is directing the show.

In a 45 minute slot there isn't time for much back history or character development so writer Simon Warne presents us with a nicely delivered but nonetheless pretty blunt instrument. A Chorus, made up of the cast, singing scene-setting explanations to the tunes of Christmas Carols proves an entertaining and timesaving device to progress the story which quickly becomes predictable, but isn't that what it's all about? - we know there is going to be a happy ending and the pleasure is in watching it come to fruition.

The script can be forgiven its occasional drift into illogic or triteness - "it's not easy to be superwoman" is the retort from single "on demand parent" Kim - and it is also very funny, and director Aileen Gonsalves could have done more with the pacing: 'comic timing' has more than one speed.

Nicci Holtby keeps dim-witted Nuala the right side of irritating and Ed Hulme makes a tender and unassuming Matt who gets the girl in the end. Euan King is appropriately conceited as George, positively puffing up with pride as he taunts Matt "people look at me and they see sex", whilst we enjoy Jack Lewis' performance of smarmy Simon who gets something of a comeuppance. Bosses Sophie Rickman (Jacqui) and Sari Easton (Kim) overcome the weak writing of their relationship to come across as witty and capable women.

Out of Office - behind the scenes is no comic masterpiece and neither does it claim to be, but it is energetic and entertaining and beats a rushed hour of shopping in the City any day.

Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti