This show promised huge energy, masculine physicality and comedy, and it didn’t disappoint. Playing out the power shifts between an older and younger man, the piece cleverly portrayed an ever-changing relationship. At once reliant and rejecting, the pair circled each other endlessly (both literally and metaphorically), each trying to gain – or retain – dominance.

The opening sequence set a striking, almost macabre tone: a series of frozen tableaus depicting the power play between the two characters was set against a dramatic score and even more dramatic lighting.   From this intense beginning, a much lighter and more accessible office comedy then played out. A pared-down but very funny script was performed seamlessly by Joshua Thomson and Gavin Webber; there was such a sense of flow and ease that I wondered how much of this was improvised – clearly the two men were having a lot of fun, playing games and sparring with one another.

This office scenario was interjected with occasional veers into a more surreal world – suddenly the characters seemed to depict apes as they leapt around the office, or apparently dived through the sea with a watery, splashing soundtrack.
These changes of style worked very well; having a continuous scripted scene, or the more abstract elements on their own, would have been rather challenging to watch – but the mixing and changes of pace meant that we were kept on the edge of our seats.

The physical prowess of the two performers was also striking and extremely impressive.  From boisterous fight scenes to acrobatics and choreographic dance pieces, every moment of the piece was executed with strength and vibrancy, sometimes almost a brutality in the masculine force of the movements.  Much of the comedy was also based on body language and expressions – well balanced to be effective and amusing without going too far into the slapstick.

The characters were developed in a continuously shifting fashion: as they fought, we sometimes sympathised with one over the other, but would then reverse our feelings, cringing and laughing at their expense and pitying them as the other seemed to rise as victor.  But as soon as one seemed to be beating the other, the tables would turn; there was rarely a clear-cut frontrunner in their battle to dominate the other.

I left reflecting on how we use, retain and explore power, especially in relation to our peers; and at the same time, marveling at the spectacle of a physical comedy played out so effectively using a desk and filing cabinet!

Jess Ryan-Phillips

29th October 2017

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