Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Saxon Court - review

THREE stars

THE Southwark Playhouse has built up an enviable and well deserved reputation for being bold and brave in the productions it chooses to put on.
Sometimes it is spot on with shows that razzle dazzle their way across the stage but once in a while there are ones which don't quite hit the mark.
Unfortunately Saxon Court, a new play by Daniel Andersen is in the latter category.
The premis is a good one. Donna is the ballsy founder of a City recruitment firm. She's built it with her business partner from scratch, for which she is proud, and weathered plenty of storms.
You wouldn't want to mess with her though. She's tough and she takes no prisoners whether she's dealing with her staff or her clients.
However with the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008 still raging around her - Occupy protesters outside the building forcing her to barricade her and her staff inside - and her partner in hospital with breast cancer, not to mention having to keep a firm rein on her disparate staff one of whom she has to fire, she finds herself in the middle of her own perfect storm.
Her life, career and business is about to go down the pan - or rather it would had the staff toilet not been blocked.
We meet all these characters and get a glimpse of City life on the day of their office Christmas party and predictably all the hormones, secrets and bad feeling that have been kept under wraps come out in an explosion when the party finally kicks off.
It's a play full of stereotypes and clich├ęs though. From the hard nosed, brash and tyrannical woman boss Donna (played by Debra Baker) to the blonde bimbo of a receptionist called Tash (Alice Franklin), back from a recently and massive boob job, to the lewd, vulgar, cocky Jack the lad consultant Joey (John Pickard) who seems to have an unhealthy obsession with male genitalia, to the obligatory ugly geeky office nerd Mervyn (Adam Brown), and the perpetually moody and newly pregnant office junior Nat (Sophie Ellerby) who, in trying to emulate her boss and pull in the punters has merely succeeded in trading herself by sleeping with one of her sleazy clients.
Although there is much to recommend this show - from the brilliant staging, some hilarious and really clever one liners to the top notch cast who attack their roles with gusto - there is too much shouting, the story line is predictable and you can see the ending a mile off.
And in terms of the humour, the emphasis seems to be on sexist, smutty, lewd and vulgar jokes and some questionable behaviour by Joey not to mention some equally questionable comments on race, religion and sexuality.
Ultimately it's a sad reflection on office life in the City.

Saxon Court is on at the Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway until December 13. Tickets cost £18 or £16 concessions. Visit www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk or call the box office on 020 7407 0234.

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