Tuesday, March 5

Slow Violence – The Pleasance Theatre

We are on the sixth floor of the office building of Happy Holidays. Claire is welcoming a new team member, Peter.  Initially, things get off to a promising start, although there is a clear mismatch between the personalities; Claire, controlling but clearly needy, and Peter who is more restrained but wants to fit in and make a good impression.

As the days turn into weeks and months the constraints of working in that office environment become dominant, it is far too hot, but the “people upstairs” will not allow the radiator to be turned down, the watercooler dispenses stagnant water, the electricity starts fusing, and there is flooding in the lower floors of the building water plus a leak from the ceiling.

This is a brilliantly devised piece by Laura Ryder and Harry Kingscott, who also excellently perform it.  The staging is splendidly simple: three small white desks and a refreshment station with kettle and cups.   There is no attempt at realism in the staging:  when Peter and Claire work on their computers, answer the phones or use the card entry system it is all done through mime, accompanied by spot-on sound and lighting effects designed by Pete Rickards (lighting), and Ivan Stott (composer and sound designer).

The piece only runs for one hour, which is exactly the right length, and is both very funny and maintains a continuous level of suspense as Peter tries to breakout of the constraints of the 6th floor office team while Claire seeks to maintain her control over him, while also seeking to pursue a romantic attachment which is not reciprocated.

The divisors of the piece intend it to be an allegory for our climate emergency but for me it was more about the evolving relationship between two incompatible people in an absurdist situation.  But whatever you take away from this production, it is an excellent piece of theatre and I recommend it thoroughly.

Reviewer: Paul Ackroyd

Reviewed: 22nd March 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★