Sex, Status and Success

Marin Hirschfeld’s steamy production of Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Push Up brought 80’s yuppies in power suits to the Drama Barn. The play is a collection of duologues between employees of an anonymous international corporation, topped and tailed by monologues from the office’s security staff. The result is an insight into the emptiness of the company’s staff’s lives; they are corporate successes but emotional failures, unloved and lonely. The only sane, happy characters are those not involved in the struggle for that top job, the two security guards.

The production made for an entertaining evening, mixing great poignancy with comedy in a snappy, meaty script, translated from German by director Hirshfeld. It was perhaps hampered by the decision to remove almost all physical action from the duologues (the actors simply sat either side of a table). It was an interesting route to take but gave little punctuation to the performances, sometimes reducing the actors’ lines to simply blocks of text which were read out to us. There were many great moments, but I do think the best performances of the night were delivered by Ben Anderson and Fran Trewin, playing the security staff with effortless comedy, strengthened by their freedom of movement as compared to the rest of the cast.

Other notable parts were played by Gemma Legg and Lucy Misch, who performed the first and, I think, most successful duologue, marred only by the fact that Sabina talked at length about her blue suit whilst wearing a black one. Heloise Wood’s sexy Patricia was also greatly convincing.

Overall, an entertaining production which wanted only a little more of a unifying shape to it.