Monday, 7 September 2020

ONLINE THEATRE REVIEW: Doing The Business - Northern Comedy Theatre

How does it all end for this hapless gang of bickering friends? We found out tonight in the final installment of the series, in a one night only performance. With their track record, I don’t know why they have been given something else to “do”. Who knows maybe this time they will be able to “do” the business and get the job done?

Meeting context: Due to the impact of Coronavirus on the global economy and the recession in the UK, Sunbritecrest Conservatoires PLC (great name) had taken a hit. Redundancy consultations were in full swing.

Meeting objective: The purpose of the meeting was to decide which person in the team would be fired. Correction, not “fired” that verb is off limits according to senior management, the employee would be released into a world of “new horizons”.

Present at the meeting: Tom (chairman), Ebon, Jason, Judith, Terri, and Rebecca. Now they were all fighting to keep their job in a comedy where The Apprentice meets Fawlty Towers. Familiar meeting problems were explored in the plot. You had those who hijacked the conversation, members who were pedantic about little details, people who didn’t contribute much, and the people-pleasing colleagues who agreed with everything the boss said.

When adapting to 21st Century meetings over Zoom, of course teething problems were uncovered. The first five minutes involved a couple of them struggling to hear one another because the mute button was on. I loved all the expletives we couldn’t hear from Judith out of frustration at the situation. Not to mention everyone talking over one another, however Jason had a daft but practical solution to that, every sentence from him ended with “over”. Although, this was exploited by the others when they twisted the context to make it seem like he was “over and out” and wanted to leave the business voluntarily.

In true Northern Comedy Theatre style, humorous ideas were drawn out as much as possible, showing just how hopeless but likeable the group really were. Everyone thought they knew best. There was digressing debates about the order of the meeting agenda and what was the best work practice. Meetings about meetings about meetings, in a nut shell. They all certainly looked the part with smart and formal costumes and bar charts and graphs on the walls – at the very least. Do we really know what other people are capable of though? As the play ends with a dark comedy twist. Watch out for the quiet ones.

In summary: it was another entertaining and funny comedy about a group of busy but unproductive businessmen and women – highlighting a typical and aberrant day when working remotely. In reference to Tom’s welcome speech at the meeting: I was glad I could join. Reflecting on the whole series of plays, “Doing Shakespeare” was my favourite.

Reviewer - Sam Lowe 
on - 6/9/20

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