Most people have a secret ambition to be something other than who they are. In my own case, I would love to be a professional theatre reviewer, working for one of the great daily papers and getting paid lots of money to go and watch theatre every night. Until that happens, I still need to live and so, like lots of people I have a Day Job which coincidentally is the name of the latest production from Fanny Pack Theatre and which is currently playing at the Bread and Roses in Clapham.
Day Job is made up of a group of individuals with interlinked stories of women in their workplace. The linkage is provided by the fact that they all at some point get the same, rather crowded, bus and interact with the driver – someone everyone seems to underestimate dismissing her with the words “what do you know, you’re just a bus driver”. The stories themselves are varied and include a frustrated French teacher trying to get to a singing audition, an escort finding out that it’s important to read the small print and the ultimate in nightmare managers ruling their little empire.
The first thing you notice on entering the auditorium is the colour red, there is an awful lot of it about.Set and Costume Designer Minglu Wang obviously has some affinity with the colour and manages to have it everywhere but without going too overboard. I have to say I was really impressed with the taped lines on the stage – anyone who manages to get tape down in parallel lines is impressive in my book. I also loved the bus driver’s clock and the fact it was actually working, a really nice touch.
Turning to the stories themselves. Writer/Director Evi Stamatiou has put together a really interesting series of stories that take fairly ordinary situations and stretch them to almost surreal lengths, sometimes turning their protagonists – for example, the two Elizabeth’s running the escort agency – into grotesques of the worst sort. On the whole, this works pretty well, though I did think the manager with the receptionists was a bit too over the top and difficult to believe in as a character. Also, the driver should have pointed out to the teacher that she wouldn’t be charged the second time she got on the bus as it was less than an hour since she got off the first time. However forgetting these points, I really enjoyed all of the individual scenes and particularly loved the French lesson – more interactive than I was expecting – which worked really well and led to me feeling quite chuffed on the odd occasion I got an answer right. I also thought the lengths the teacher went to to get out of her class was brilliantly done and really hilarious.
I’ve not named any characters or actors so far as the cast – Maria Alexe, Clare Joy Langford, Stephanie Merulla and Rachel Scurlock – play a variety of roles over the course of the production. I have to say, this was a great combination of actors. They were four very different in appearance, movement, and accents, but slotted together like a finely cut jigsaw to complete a whole picture and present a wonderful demonstration of the variety of people in the world.
Day Job is Fanny Pack Theatre’s first main stage production and I have to say it certainly didn’t show. What I saw was a well thought out and put together production performed by an extremely good cast. The show wasn’t what I had been expecting from a theatre company that is “dedicated to creating progressive and provocative theatre with an emphasis on women’s stories” but that is probably more to do with my own interpretation of their website than anything else. What I did see was a first rate show that had me laughing and was thoroughly entertaining from the start. Well worth a visit.
Review by Terry Eastham
Born out of a desire to tell the stories of people stuck in jobs that stifle aspirations, Day Job is a fast-paced and surreal comedy. Nightmare managers and daydreamer employees fight over a person’s freedom to choose how they spend their time– and, consequently, their life– in this hilarious, new devised piece inspired by the real experiences of the performers.
Fanny Pack Theatre presents Day Job
written & directed by Evi Stamatiou
Running Time: 60-75 minutes
Booking 6th to 10th December 2016