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The Gronholm Method – An Interview From Hell

5 STARS
JOB interviews are often gruelling affairs, involving psychometric tests that leave you both baffled and confused. Wrong answer? Right answer? Am I lying?

But I bet you have probably never experienced anything more brutal than the experience four candidates are subjected to in The Gronholm Method, a play written by Jordi Galceran and showing at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

For 90 minutes they are left to fight amongst themselves with one eventually crawling out of the interview wrestling ring triumphant. It is all rather undignified and nasty, but great fun to observe from a safe distance.

Set in the New York offices of a top American company (Fortune 500 company, no less), the four comprise one female and three males (though one declares halfway through that he is transgender). The woman, Melanie (Laura Pitt-Pulford), is red-headed and is a former friend (and more besides) from student days of fellow candidate Carl (Greg McHugh). Completing the foursome are arrogant Frank (Jonathan Cake) and a tic-tac loving Rick (John Gordon Sinclair).

Having all allegedly gone through four interviews already, this appears to the grand finale but nothing is quite what it seems. At key moments, a drawer in the room pops open like magic and the four are given instructions on what to do. Initially, they are told there is a company mole amongst them and it is their responsibility to finger them.

Verbal warfare ensues. As more tasks are issued in envelopes plucked from the magic drawer, we discover more about the four characters. Work indiscretions, marital breakdowns and family crises.

It is all wrapped in a swaddling suit of lies and there are plenty of twists and turns along the way to keep the viewer interested. Who is for real? Who is playing a part? Is anyone for real? Even at the very end, we are kept guessing.

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It is fun and the pace rarely slackens. Jonathan Cake’s Frank dominates the stage. Tall and good looking, he struts around like a peacock, spitting bile at Carl and Melanie in super-size portions. John Gordon Sinclair plays Rick quite brilliantly. A bit of a knob who is going through a mid-life crisis. Both McHugh and Pitt-Pulford also deliver powerful performances.

This is a splendid production, skilfully directed by BT McNicholl. Sometimes it takes the breath away with the obnoxious behaviour shown by those vying for the job on offer. It is a production that the writer of the play, Jordi Galceran, would surely approve of.

As for The Gronholm Method of interviewing, rest assured: it does not exist. It is a name Galceran plucked out of the sky when he wrote the play in the early 2000s. Marcus Gronholm was a Finnish rally driver who in 2002 won the World Rally Championship.

The Gronholm Method runs until July 7.

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