Stereotypes can make us cringe. We can watch an actor adopting the clichéd idiosyncrasies of a “type” and then quiver and wince at the embarrassment of them trying to make it look natural (or not as the case may be). However, there are times when caricatures can be used effectively, not so much for comical effect but rather to emphasise the obvious in order to make a point.
Original Impact Theatre Company’s A Working Title, through song, monologues and authentic human interaction, tells us about a ‘generation lost, lonely, tired, poor’: about turning twenty-five in the hustle and bustle of London and still not having your shit together; about the life that follows on from the happy ever after at the end of the fairy-tale.
The entire piece had a ‘GCSE Drama’ feel about it, with bursting pop songs, a barren stage with nothing but blocks and an attempt at choral unity which was mostly out of sync. Yet, production values were not necessarily vital: this was a play about human interaction after all, thus what’s being said and how it’s delivered should take priority. And, honestly, it was a very mixed bag.
Surrounded by a range of characters with emphasised traits, the innocent sincerity of Oliver Healy’s busker just failed to grab. Despite his speeches and poetry being perfectly appropriate within the context, Healy seemed unable to find a balance between his flamboyant actor prancing from one audition to another and his street busker strolling through the crowds with his guitar. Meanwhile, Vinnie Monachello and Elicia Moon Murphy, as Luke and Chrissy respectively, managed to capture honest, subtle traits and expressions which dramatised their respective characters whilst keeping with a naturalism that resulted in authentic interactions; this was particularly evident during their scenes as co-workers in an elevator. It was a genuine pleasure to see the development of their relationship, with all the witty awkwardness that writer, Megan Jenkins, was able to express.
As Kate, Holly Ashman was as delicate as she was bold; her ability to expel her emotion whilst internalising her character’s thoughts created a virtuous warmth, which grounded a truth to the phone call from her ex after a break-up. Jessica Kearney and Christina Henne Holmbek finalised the cast (as Bryony and Emelie, respectively), both offering decent performances. Kearney’s early monologue was particularly poignant.
A more dynamic staging would have given the piece a bit more shape, allowing the actors to feel slightly more comfortable in the space. Essentially, a simple production brought an honest insight into the lives of twenty-something year olds in a world they’re not quite ready for. Moments on pivots, dating and working in a coffee shop made this a lovely little bit of theatre, with recognisable characters and thoughtful writing throughout.
Review by Joseph Winer
After sell out performances at The Camden Fringe 2015 and The Blue Elephant Theatre 2016, and before it appears at Edinburgh Fringe, Manchester Fringe and Upstairs at The Gatehouse London, A Working Title transfers for a short time only to The Union Theatre.
It’s about living in The City in a generation of renters, tinder swipers, never-left-the-nesters, budget shoppers, internshipers, over-the-recommended-daily-allowance-drinkers, minimum wage workers, sofa surfers and day dreamers. It’s about how disappointed your spotty sixteen-year-old self would be by their future dominated by Netflix, no money and sharing a shower with eight strangers.
It’s about turning 25 and still not having your sh*t together, accompanied by a jaunty live soundtrack, poetry, dancing and lots of silly voices.
A debut play for a generation who are making it up as they go along, A Working Title, by Megan Jenkins for theatre company, Original Impact, will be playing from 16th – 18th May at The Union Theatre, London. Recommended for ages 14+.
Original Impact Theatre Company
A Working Title
16th, 17th and 18th May at 7.30pm