Photo Credit: DramaSoc
Venue: Drama Barn
Taking a break from the usual convoy of concept comedies, this week’s DramaSoc Open Drama Night was somewhat of a tragic polemic. Rosie O’Sullivan and Sam Boullier’s Office Trip was a thought-provoking drama which showed us the gruesome and cyclical nature of our capitalist culture, and not a single member of the audience left the Drama Barn without at least a slight twinge of guilt about their role in our sordid society of insatiable consumerism. The action is fronted by the grotesque Mr Mister, played with terrifying power by the ineffable Joseph D’Angelo. Mr Mister is a tyrannical figure, representative of all that is wrong with the greedy Fat-Cats leading our corporations: portrayed as a slave-driver, one could not help but feel…
Oh who are we kidding? This play was nonsense. No really, it was nonsense: the best kind of nonsense.
Sure, there may have been a rather confounded message about the monotony of business life, but at its heart this play was just a bit of fun for everyone. There was a ghost of a story, but this felt more like a vehicle for a series of increasingly bizarre sketches involving an inefficient SatNav, a failed singer-turned-hotelier of ambiguous nationality, and some of the most thrilling and innovative fight scenes since The Matrix. The music was eclectic, the scenery was scrambled, the lighting was psychedelic, and the audience was bamboozled…it really was quite brilliantly absurd.
Never have I felt helpless in the face of reviewing a show, but Office Trip truly had me stumped for a while. Then I realised that I was attempting to apply conventional criticism to one of the most unconventional exhibitions I have ever seen. Office Trip transcends the blunt tools of traditional reviewing—in fact, I would feel comfortable saying that Office Trip transcends the very idea of art. I’m not saying that it was better than art, but it certainly wasn’t worse. The cast all did well to keep the audience engaged and amused through the parade of absurdities before them: special mention must go to Joseph D’Angelo and James Esler, whose frequent bickering never failed to draw laughs from the audience. Olly Brassell also did a marvellous job of bringing to life the enigmatic, inscrutable, monosyllabic, and…odd character of Mona, the hotelier’s… wife… of sorts.
To give Office Trip a star rating would be to unfairly confine it to the constraints of conventional drama, and this would be a disservice to everyone involved. It was by no means perfect, but a production such as this doesn’t pretend to be—some work on the improvisation might have helped, and a touch more space for the action to unfold would have been nice, but perhaps to provide such rudimentary suggestions to this play is to shoehorn it into a category of drama which it is not. However, given that there has been no emblematic measurement for me to make this clear, I feel as though I should explicitly say that I absolutely loved it.