1st December 2011
Various locations on City Road, Cardiff.
It’s the 1st December, so Christmas has come again, at least it was for Dirty Protest’s curious menagerie of plays last week. Presented with a Christmas card, sweets and tinsel the party atmosphere descends unapologetically and invites you to sit, drink and be merry. Billed as five new plays exploring the world of the Office Christmas Party, Dirty Protest’s talented writers took the audience around an Office Party Time zone, from the before and after to slap bang in the middle and the outside looking in.
First up was A Cold Coming by Aled Roberts, having settled in warmth of the Park Conservative Club with drink in hand, a body is carried through the crowd accompanied by take-away pizza and the cast. Brought together by the request of a dying man for his last rights, the short piece focused on the feelings brought out by the significance of Christmas – Carrie and her failed relationship with her mother and the slightly predictable religious banter between rival parish priests. It was an engrossing piece that could be explored and taken beyond its short life.
Next up was Foiled: introduced to Sabrina, a stereotypical hairdresser and her staff; we follow the antics disastrous events as they finish up shop before the Christmas party. The strongest performer was Francois Pandolfo playing Richie. The piece did appeal to the audience with spectacularly funny moments although there was a reliance on stereotypes to carry it forward.
Duncan Macmillan’s Mistakes have Been Made brought in the theme of recession much more than the others with a one man show about a shady, smooth talking Manager whose rambling party speech told the story of an ailing company struggling with corruption throughout its ranks. Filled with office anecdotes of desk sabotage and mockery of other offices, the audience played the part of his employee’s, raising glasses and allowing him to interact, creating a far more solid office party experience. It ended with real sabotage as ‘audience members’ bundled him into a back room for a ‘beating’: certainly the strongest of the five pieces.
The cosy Yurt at Milgi’s was up next for Before I go. A small slice of the world outside the Christmas Party was represented by this one man monologue: a victim of recession cuts, John laments over his job as Santa for Christmas to Janet a co-worker who never took notice of his feelings. Ditched, he is slipping away molecule by molecule. Given the 15 minute slot the piece gave enough to enjoy it with a rather engrossing narrative – pity it couldn’t have been that little bit longer.
Lastly was The Demise of Photocopy Boy: Mary, played by Hanna Jarman, awaited a bus home after the office party and the audience were witness to her curious ramblings and opinions of office colleagues, life and the Christmas party. Initially seeming as a digression, her wonderings about serial killers develops into a plan to kill Photocopy Boy: an innocent whose feelings have seemingly now landed him in hot water. Slightly off kilter against the others the play certainly stood out, a well written script gave it credence. Certainly stood in a bus-stop squeezed in with 20 other people listening was a different experience.
The Dirty Protest team certainly lived up to their promise and re-claimed the Christmas party, if not dirty it was most certainly daring and attention drawing: it wholly depends on where you take ‘Dirty’. An almost flawless night, any small delay between was negligible as the atmosphere buzzed and everyone got stuck in. I certainly enjoyed being a Dirty Elf!
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