NEW Labour takes an excoriating look at the new world of work that many people are now part of. One where employee rights are minimal, pay is meagre and employers rule ruthlessly. The play is not afraid to pull its punches and punch away it does furiously until the very last scene.
Written by Marcelo Dos Santos and directed by Paul Jaynes, the play is built around a call centre where workers spend their hours attempting to persuade people to pay for expensive photoshoots. It’s a racket.
The employees are a hotchpotch of young individuals, all with foibles and insecurities. There’s heavy drinker Alice (Elizabeth Scott), a wannabe singer, and her vain boyfriend Cal (Amann Souza) who dreams of an acting career in Hollywood. Scandinavian Liam (Samuel Ferman) is attracted to Alice who much to his annoyance calls him ‘hamster’.
Liz (Zoe Mavrides) is a firecracker of an Australian who likes to speak her mind and be one of the lads while Brian (Joe Stalford) is full of angst. Then there’s Colette (Zulaiha Sheikh) who is a bit of an oddball – cerebral and religious – and Rob (a fun Manuele Macaione), who is a volatile Italian and thinks he is a bit of a sex god.
Overseeing this motley, eclectic crew is Sally (Tumilara James) who has distracting issues at home to contend with – an ill parent. In turn she is managed by the monstrous Duncan (Saiful Islam) whose soul does not contain an ounce of empathy. Profit is his only God.
The play is fragmented. It starts with the employees partying while Sally is off caring for her father. There’s drugs aplenty and flirting galore. Brian, temporarily in charge, is as useless as a chocolate teapot.
When Alice gets an audition for the X Factor, Roisin (an excellent Jaime Rose Phipps) arrives with a video camera to take footage of her at work. Roisin is gorgeously flirty (Cal is quickly on her radar), outrageously affected and, when she wants to be, brutally dismissive.
We then move on to Christmas celebrations where we are introduced to the obnoxious Duncan. There’s drink aplenty, disappointment and joy, tragedy and amusing copulations, breakups and reunions, promotions and walkouts. But most of all, there’s dreadful corporate behaviour. This is one sorry workplace.
For all its damning depiction of UK plc 2019, New Labour is not without its laughs. It also possesses plenty of zest and attitude, helped by a vibrant cast. It is a play with a powerful message – and one enthusiastically received by a packed audience (July 16). Worth a view.