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Golden Age Theatre Company: The Beast | Review

Now, this is an interesting take on what it is to climb the career ladder whilst making compromises along the way to achieve one’s ambitions. Caroline (Melanie Thompson) paints a picture of corporate life in an architecture practice as being pressurised, working for a business tycoon, referred to only as Grossman. The pay and working conditions are below the industry average, and while some people might look at the male to female ratio and conclude there are twice as many women as men working for the company, Caroline has her theories as to why this is the case – it feeds on Grossman’s love of the female form, so to speak, and also allows him to keep personnel costs lower, the assumption being that the women will have (male) partners in better-paid jobs who are supporting them.

Golden Age Theatre Company: The BeastSuch a distinctly non-progressive working environment eventually gives rise to a legal challenge brought on by one of his employees, someone who got on well with Caroline but had been at the company for longer and had more experience, so on paper should have been promoted first. Caroline maintains she was promoted by way of experience, even if the ‘experience’ in question is one she would rather forget, and it soon becomes clear that her version of events as told to colleagues with regards to an after-hours private meeting with Grossman is rather different than what actually transpired. Lying, in other words.

All this raises a number of questions: while Grossman’s firm may well be the largest architectural practice in London, biggest does not always mean best. Could Caroline not have gone elsewhere? She seems articulate and intelligent – could she not have struck out on her own, or perhaps with others to start their own enterprise? Grossman may be tyrannical, but he governs by consent – could it be that managerial styles like his still exist because people allow them to?

The narrative itself is easy to follow – Caroline’s engaging nature certainly helps keep the viewer interested, but the play’s conclusion, while nonetheless plausible, seems too tidy. It’s one of those stories that could have been left open-ended but ties up loose ends anyway. That said, the plot does provide some insight into just how it is that certain people get into positions of power, and what they did to get there. Caroline asserts the gentler, more reflective types of men “don’t get a look in” whilst the “assertive, thrusting, arrogant” men forge ahead. I’d say the same goes for women and non-binary people too. One might not agree with Caroline’s course of action, but this is a thoughtful and compelling production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

A monumental ego and a self-seeking ruthlessness have propelled Grossman to the top of his profession. An ‘alpha male’ in every sense, Grossman surrounds himself with flatterers and sycophants who fear and loathe him.

Knowing his reputation for preying on young female employees, Caroline keeps her distance but an opportunity to advance her career propels her into Grossman’s lascivious clutches.

Written and Directed by Ian Dixon Potter
Performed by Melanie Thompson
Original music composed and performed by Neil Thompson
Filmed by Ian Dixon Potter
Edited by Howard White

Golden Age Theatre on YouTube


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