Left my Desk
New Diorama Theatre
Reviewed – 31st May 2018
“an important piece of theatre which shines a light on a complicated issue”
Produced by the award-winning theatre company Lost Watch, Left My Desk tells the story of Children’s Services social worker, Becca (played by Rianna Dearden) and her struggle to do her job amidst budget cuts, tough cases, and personal sorrows.
The acting overall is of a very high standard, but Adam Langstaff and Rachel Hosker, who both play a variety of characters, from a tough policeman to a young mother with an addiction problem, are the standouts. They switch superbly through their various personas and are highly believable and enjoyable to watch.
The storyline is gripping and gives us a taste of Becca’s personal life and work life, which at times seem to blur into one. There is a lot that is left unresolved and large time jumps, which are sometimes unclear, but this seems to reflect Becca’s job itself as in social work most cases are not tied up neatly with a bow. There are a few cheesy lines that could have been avoided, but overall the plot is fast paced, exciting, and engaging, and clearly shows the breakdown of Becca’s mental health as she strives to do her best at her job. The piece certainly succeeds at pulling you in completely to this world of domestic violence, budget cuts, and class divides, and you can’t help but be affected by the cases Becca has to deal with and impact austerity has had on social work.
The set consists of three white desks and three white rectangular frames on wheels, each with a clear plastic sheet across them. These frames work as office windows, hospital hallways and French windows, and have a lovely reflection effect. They are flexible and work well to illustrate the play’s many locations but also keep the cold, clinical feeling which seems to mirror the way the institution of social work can sometimes feel. As Becca says, “An organisation doesn’t make a great parent.”
The lighting and sound design are excellent and add to the tense mood of the play. The lighting design (Hector Murray) is particularly ingenious in one scene where Becca and her partner, Phil (Jamie Samuel), are driving at night. The scene is the emotional climax of the play and the lights cleverly imitate driving on a motorway at night. Fergus Waldron’s sound design is also very well done, in particular the use of low tones and sound effects underpinning scenes and setting the location (e.g the quiet hum of traffic or the sounds of an office). It’s these small design touches which really lift the piece and bring it all together.
Overall, Left My Desk is an important piece of theatre which shines a light on a complicated issue and tells it from the perspective of those who are on the ground and working in the field. It’s a well-designed, heartfelt, and thought-provoking show and absolutely worth a watch.
Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com
Photography by Scott Rylander
Left my Desk
New Diorama Theatre until 16th June
Previously reviewed at this venue