WORKING – Southwark Playhouse

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Southwark Playhouse, London – until 8 July 2017
Guest reviewer: Heather Deacon

It is remarkable how the mundane, simple and modest elements of hard graft, so often taken for granted, become the catalyst for the way you think and live your life, despite your best efforts to be defined by your dreams. Working, a musical directed by Luke Sheppard at the Southwark Playhouse, capitalises on that universal revelation with an incredible cast performing heartfelt, heartwarming and heart-wrenching stories of real people.

Get all social media for WORKING & its cast on www.stagefaves.com

Without a narrative of sorts, the revolution that is Stud Terkel’s 1974 book (now on my Amazon wishlist) is celebrated as we’re invited into the lives of everyone from a hotel maid to a press agent, from firefighter to teacher. The seasoned cast relish the array of accents and sass, with no character left behind and no performance lacking and with their younger counterparts embracing their first post training roles with enough energy and glee to keep the hope alive even in the darkest moments. Under Isaac McCullough’s baton, the tunes switch from cabaret to rock ballad to country, attributing to the multitude of musicians and writers credited which only adds to this celebration of the spice and variety of life.

Kicking off with an overture addressing the possibilities and downsides of worklife (“There are okay bosses or Satan bosses”) we are then thrown into the unknowingly deep thoughts of a fast food server and delivery guy (the mostly gleefully sweet Liam Tamne), the musings of a “Brother Trucker” (the very much not 19, Dean Chisnall), cue a rock ballad, and the pride of a steel worker (the endearing Peter Polycarpou) and that’s just a few from the guys. The range in the cast is incredible and drives the performance as the perky Indian customer service advisor warps into a pacifist with a screw loose. The ladies include Gillian Bevan perfectly presenting the pride of a lifelong waitress with a cabaret-esque number, Krysten Cummings bringing Whitney back as determined hotel maid and Siubhan Harrison bringing a tear to the eye as she harmonises the woes of factory labourer. It’s difficult to pinpoint a highlight, as it’s difficult to determine a more interesting story when they’re all told with the same pizazz.

In a world where it’s becoming more and more easy to forget the incredibly real and entirely fascinating lives of those who serve you coffee and build your homes, this musical is a welcome revival (and London premiere) and an eye-opening night. Oh, and so much fun.

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Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.
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Jonathan Baz on RssJonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.

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