Managing the situation
Review by Corinna Lotz
Here is a play so of our time that it sparkles and zings.
Dan Davies’ tale of a highflying architect on his way to a lucrative commission reveals the emptiness lurking beneath the symbols of success in the global corporate world.
Patrick Emmanuel and his deputy Orianna Fleet are in the “Executive Bespoke” departure lounge at the airport. The brand-obsessed Orianna is thrilled by the stylish red Imola armchairs. But despite the obsequious – and yet carefully restricted – attentions of their hostesses, not for these travellers the “ceremonial turning off of the phones” before departure.
Instead, their slave-driving boss Tibor demands that an immediate re-work of their design for the main entrance hall for the Uzbek Palace of Eternal Freedom has to be completed during their night flight to Tashkent. Out come the laptops and the plans. The pressure soars when Patrick learns that his son Oscar has been run over by a car. Wanting to claim full credit for the £200m contract from the Uzbek government, Patrick desperately tries to get his nanny Selina to jeopardise her holiday and look after his son. When she refuses, Orianna books a “last-minute nanny” from the Internet but this opens up an even worse can of worms, involving chains of credit card call-centres. Patrick’s surgeon wife refuses to break off an operation to comply with his demands and things inexorably and hilariously spiral out of control.
Proving the truth of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s proposal that “action is character”, the cast never sets a foot wrong in creating distinctive roles. The story revolves around Patrick’s predicament, but this is a quick-fire and often complex display of ensemble acting, thanks to the experienced touch of director Maja Milatovic-Ovadia. Four of the cast play their multiple roles unerringly. Simon Desborough is confident, seductive and bossy in turns – increasingly trapped as his options run out.
The wronged but viperish Orianna (Victoria Johnson) snaps at his heels, only too glad to put the boot in when the time comes. Sakuntuala Ramanee is convincing as the first hostess plus Kimberley Emmanuelle as Patrick’s put-upon wife. And they, together with Lianne-Rose Bunce as hostess/angry nanny/Jackie, Andrew Ward as the building contractor, plus Lewis Goody in his theatre debut as the nanny’s boyfriend/call centre employee, truly scale the heights of riotously funny and telling satire.
Mafalda Cruz' constantly changing backdrop ranging from stockmarket tables to a gory operating table, together with Jon McLeod's airport announcements, mobile phone bleeps and ringtones made for a thoroughly modern hell.
This short play is a most enjoyable and penetrating satire on our super-connected lives and values. Don’t miss it.
1 August 2012