15 Feb 2012
Nativities is a darkly comic new play set in the world of petty office politics, designated smoking areas and the cheeky pint after work.
Theatre is supposed to get you away from the hum-drum of normal existence. As far as I am concerned, the office doesn't exist after 16.30...well until I get that horrid feeling in my belly at bed time-when I know at 08.00 the same old roller-coaster happens again..Same sh*t just different day.
The necessity of work is not just the only thing that can go awry, the personal life that lies behind, while you put on a happy go lucky approach to mask everything.
Nativities, written by Zoe Cooper, envelopes all of the doom and gloom of an underachieving call centre with bullet points of failing statistics and staff coping like frightened moths in a jam jar.
Stella (Samantha Neale) is the new admin recruit in an office of friendly assassins, very shy and demure she finds it hard to fit in with the turbulence of the personalities in the hell hole of her workspace. Being left along to fend for herself, she keeps her ear to the ground and susses out all of her up and coming situations.
The faulty air condition only masks the stench and heat that is generated by the cubicle dwellers toiling away, their hard earned hours still not making a dent in company figures.
Scion Communications call centre manager (Paul Woodson), with so much on his shoulders as the boss's soon to be son in law, is flash and brash, he wants so dearly to see his section rise from the ashes and do so much better. His manic actions and unfulfillment was clear to see and hear as he drifted from one stat to another without making too much sense. The only sense we got out of him was his roving eye.
The office line manager Madge (Melanie Hill), is still dreaming of her time as entertainer on the cruise ships, commanding the waves, only this time she has to settle for leading her down beaten troops into pulling their socks up. She thinks only about Madge herself and the little bit of flirting that she has picked up on her way, is certainly going to help her out.
As the play develops, little snippets of home life come through from the characters. Clive (Christopher Connel) and his ultrasound wife Louise (Phillippa Wilson) talk and move around in uncomfortable circles, not really discussing anything of merit that holds a lot of attention to either. When Clive comes to work it is as a better extension of his life away from his wife.
Chelle (Laura Norton) is the office party girl, with shoes and matching lipstick, and with an attitude to scare anybody. Chelle would definitely be the girl that would lead you up the wrong garden path..in fact look at her the wrong way and she would probably throw you in the garden pond. In her private life she juggles her child with whatever bottle of vodka is cheap at the off licence. Her romantic life is as complicated as she is.
The play had two characters telling their tale at a time, as to not confuse the audience. This gave us a sort of play within a play, where we had to decode the clues.
Zoe Cooper the writer had to endure such a terrible way of making a living, with all of the back stabbing, knowing looks, whispers and the 'I used to like you, before you did this or that' attitudes that come into play when you are working so closely with people/team, in my honest opinion she got the divide between the personal and public persona's spot on. Some great Geordie humour in the script writing kept the full house at Live eager to know what was around the corner for the workmates.
A really great stage design by Gary McCann left us in no doubt as the the conditioning of the decrepit office, and the sound by Dave Flynn wouldn't be out of place in a low budget horror film. It would be horrible to actually work in such conditions.
Directed by Live's Max Roberts, another fantastic Newcastle premiere of fabulous writing and top acting from all on stage. Go and See it
Strong language and adult themes.
Runs until March 3rd (with a Pay What You Can on Sunday 26 Feb)