Asking for a Raise
Reviewed – 3rd July 2018
“The ensemble work produced by this cast was of the highest calibre, and the skill required to pull off this type of work should not be underestimated”
Asking for a Raise is a devised comedy which explores one of the central and perennial demands of office culture; exactly how do you pluck up the courage to ask for a raise? It’s a situation familiar to many of us, although the ‘universal office’ in the piece had more in common with offices of the past than with contemporary work spaces. One of the performers – the excellent Poppy Lawless – mentions her time at a call centre in her programme biography, and this reviewer couldn’t help feeling that the piece would have been taken to the next level by properly drawing on the experiences of these young actors, rather than rehashing an office setting that essentially hasn’t changed since the 1950s.
There’s no doubt that Hugo Aguirre (designer/director) and Franciska Éry (director), ably assisted by Liam Murphy (music), have produced a slick piece of theatre. It is visually arresting and tightly choreographed, with some well-orchestrated set pieces. Stylistically, it is reminiscent of the wonderful formative years of Theatre de Complicité, and there is still a lot of fun to be had within that absurdist European tradition. Again however, there was a feeling of disconnect. It felt like a well-mastered technique, as opposed to an organically-developed theatrical language, unique to this company, and as such, was lacking in soul. The office is, of course, an alienating soulless space, but the subject shouldn’t affect the performance quality. The ensemble work produced by this cast was of the highest calibre, and the skill required to pull off this type of work should not be underestimated. It was just a shame that the substance of the piece was not there for them to work with, and that they were not more present as individuals.
Fifty minutes is an awful lot of time for one relatively flimsy scenario to fill, no matter how much flair there is in its execution, and the script would have benefited from the same attention to detail as its performative realisation. Congratulations though to Poppy Lawless, Imogen Parker (with special mention to her wonderful solo smoky jazz pastiche), Jacob Ward, Jack Westgate and Gemma Wray. It would be exciting to see this gang work together again, taking a few more risks and bringing in some heart.
Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw
Photography by LivLeopard Photography
Asking to a Raise
The Space until 7th July
Previously reviewed at this venue