Tag Archives: New Perspectives

“The Boss of It All” from the Soho Theatre

While most of us have surely had enough of Zoom meetings this year, writer and director Jack McNamara uses the format to great effect in updating this show to these coronavirus times. 

Continuing the strong work this year from theatre company New Perspectives, the office-based comedy, originally a Lars von Trier film, is a clear candidate for adaptation. The result is nonetheless impressive.

There’s fun from the start as an actress, Kristina, is recruited into a scam by unscrupulous IT boss, Ravn. The jokes about Kristina’s seriousness and pretensions are solid; that she isn’t very successful is worked in well. It will be her job to take the blame for his decisions – pretending to be titular CEO. Needless to say, Kristina ends up taking the role a little too seriously, helping to make “worlds work”, then worrying about her “moral duty”.

A “visionary” IT webinar and staff appraisals follow and are both terrific. A team building exercise works less well (don’t they always?) and the finale isn’t hard to see coming. Ravn’s plot for the company, and the question of whether or not he will take responsibility, are deliberately deflated by the show’s satirical PoMo tone – but that irony is itself predictable. Likewise, oh-so-knowing narration between the scenes enforces how forced the humour is. Which is not to say that you won’t laugh…just that the script is contrived and heavy-handed here.

“Confusing, incompetent and spineless”

Adding a sense of joy and fun are strong performances that bring some lightness to the show. Josie Lawrence is excellent as Kristina. To see such an accomplished improvisor joke about the format provides an extra edge. Lawrence is joined by Ross Armstrong, as “giggling shitbag” Ravn, who is just as good. A checklist for poor leadership – “confusing, incompetent and spineless” – each is given its due to great effect. 

Those unfortunate enough to work for Ravn also aid the piece. The team has, not surprisingly, a “lot of baggage” – Yuriko Kotani and Angela Bain are especially good with their bizarre backstories. Such eccentrics, traumatised by working from home, get yet more laughs. McNamara is consistently strong with the particular trials of our times so updating The Boss of It All proves a Zoom meeting worth attending.

www.sohotheatre.com/soho-theatre-demand/

New Perspectives Theatre

Never short of novelty, the coronavirus lockdown has seen theatre makers more inventive than ever. New productions, such as those from The Original Theatre Company, and plenty of podcasts, such as Seeds, might have been expected. But there have also been installations, at the Donmar, and numerous live streams embracing Zoom. And here’s a particularly fun example of embracing technology from East Midlands-based company New Perspectives – the first drama I’ve come across on WhatsApp.

Stay Safe

Billed as a treat for Halloween, the scenario is simple. We are given access to a WhatsApp group for parents whose children go to the same school, one of whom asks about an unknown Mr Mathers that their child has been talking to!

As the story progresses, trying to track this character down, it has to be admitted that the content isn’t original. The piece is working within a genre after all. But it works well. If the twists aren’t unexpected, they manage to raise a smile.

A little spoiler as an example…that it turns out you and the group might be fooled about who is really texting isn’t a huge surprise. But it is an effective use of the format and a smart point; seeding suspicion and menace as well as raising the issue of online security.

Is it scary? So, so…I confess I didn’t want to watch the video clips in case I saw something! But more impressive is Jack McNamara’s writing for this novel format. ‘Eavesdropping’ on a group who aren’t quite friends proves funny. And McNamara turns the action dark and tense with ease. The characters, especially Phil and Meena, become clear and distinct. Correcting their mistakes or faux pas and using emoticons builds up personalities with surprising success.

It is traditional writing skills that really make Stay Safe a success and, as an experience, it’s engrossing and easy to recommend.

More from New Perspectives

There are more good ideas, too, with an eye on festive presents for theatre lovers. New Perspectives has worked with six renowned theatre names to produce limited edition Christmas cards that “reimagine traditional yuletide messages”. And their ‘show’ from earlier this year, Love from Cleethorpes, will also be available again – another different format for drama, this time a play on a series of postcards!

www.newperspectives.co.uk