Home » London Theatre Reviews » FaceOddity presents This Isn’t Working at Edinburgh Fringe 2023

FaceOddity presents This Isn’t Working at Edinburgh Fringe 2023

I am reminded of the one-liner that asked whether Jobcentre Plus becomes Jobcentre Minus if there aren’t any jobs going. Here, Sandy Surname (Tom Hindle) finds himself out of work, and a number of options are available to him, all of which he takes, with somewhat predictably hilarious results. This show is on at the right time, just after 11:00pm, a high tempo and easy-to-follow series of sketches to round off a busy day at the Fringe.

This Isn't Working.There’s more than a touch of the absurd – the more ridiculous it gets, the better. The writers evidently don’t think highly of those meditation and mindfulness apps, gloriously parodying them into making the likes of Sandy feel guilty about themselves instead of achieving some kind of inner nirvana. The more ridiculous things become, the higher the comedy value: ‘HMS Catastrophe’ is abandoned in more ways than one after its captain has a breakdown and speaks at length about a personal relationship that has turned sour.

Jobseeking can be a very strange thing – I’ve been on the receiving end of recruiter spiels about allegedly ‘really good’ roles that are of little or no interest to me. Sandy, it seems, just wants work, and his impressive CV somehow makes him eligible for a Cabinet position, where he is grilled on BBC’s Newsnight, where his words are ludicrously twisted. It’s best to go with the flow with this show – analyse it too much and you’ll be wondering (if you’re anything like me) what party Sandy has joined, which constituency he represents, and if he’s in a marginal seat.

It’s difficult to pick stand-out moments in a show that is amusing throughout, though I liked an early scene in which the song ‘YMCA’ was acted out with just three cast members, forcing some rapid shuffling, and a scene about the search for an MI5 agent: it wouldn’t be very appropriate to say much more about that, espionage being what it is. There’s life in the old school sketch show yet.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Painfully overqualified Sandy Surname has reskilled, rethought and rebooted, but is still struggling to find work. Luckily, the crack team at the local job centre has a range of positions which would be “absolutely perfect” for him. As Sandy embarks on his job hunt, he must select the next town crier for the hamlet of Grimswald, become Chancellor of the Exchequer, and rescue the sinking crew of HMS Catastrophe while supporting its unstable captain through a painful breakup. Despite his best efforts Sandy soon realises – this isn’t working.

“This Isn’t Working”
Ivy Studio @ Greenside Infirmary St
7-12, 14-19 Aug (Previews 4-5 Aug)

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