New Perspectives’ The Boss of it All, adapted from the Lars Von Trier film of the same name by director, Jack McNamara, has been especially tailored to show office life in lockdown, with all the fun of working from home and life on furlough.
Mr Ravn (Ross Armstrong) is negotiating the future of the IT company he works for with Finnur (Le Gateau Chocolat), a successful Icelandic businessperson. Unfortunately, the company’s boss, Svenya, is an absent American who only communicates with him via email. So he hires struggling actor, Kristina (Josie Lawrence) to perform as the boss during negotiations. Unfortunately, his plan to have this as a one-off performance goes wrong, and Kristina soon finds herself embroiled in office politics and facing the consequences of all the unpopular decisions “she” has made over the years.
The play opens with narration from Tone Haldrup Lorenzen. Recurring throughout the performance, there are some wryly amusing elements to the narration, due to its meta style, but unfortunately it does sap the pace of the rest of the performance somewhat and doesn’t really add anything to the show.
The action itself begins with Kristina rehearsing the speech which Mr Ravn has prepared for her to read during the call. Lawrence performs the role with a lovely melodramatic quality which implies she is a passionate, though possibly not very successful actor. Armstrong’s twitchy and nervy performance create a sense of personality from the start and the chemistry between the two actors is excellent.
Some brilliant comedy is created through the complications of office life in lockdown as Kristina has to navigate the world of an IT company she knows little to nothing about. The frustrations of Zoom are shown, with people freezing, cutting out and disappearing into their virtual backgrounds. And of course there is Kristina’s most important decision: what accent would the boss have, and how often and for how long should she pause between points?
When we meet Svenya’s staff, there are some outstanding performances from the frustrated and overworked quartet of middle managers (Angela Bain, Rachel Summers, Yuriko Kotani and Jamie de Courcey). Finnur’s PA is also brilliantly performed by David Alade, whose attitude and presence steal the scenes he features in.
This play has really captured the spirit of working from home during lockdown. From the technological difficulties to the online team bonding activities, there is a real sense of life right now for anyone whose old world job was office based. There are some brilliant performances and laugh out loud moments which make this surreal show well worth watching.
The Boss of it All is being streamed until 20th September 2020. Tickets are available here https://sohotheatre.com/shows/the-boss-of-it-all/
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 19th September 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★