A pair of Camden Fringe Reviews which cover workplace comedy Last Wednesday’s Work Shirt and What’s Wrong With Me? – The Musical, both at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre
“You’re in the right place”
Never mind the announcement of this year’s Strictly contestants, Dumb Found Theatre’s Last Wednesday’s Work Shirt opens with a dance routine which is the rival of anything Anton Du Beke could dream of. And it is that vein of ball-squeezing, goldfish-murdering absurdism that carries the show to a pleasing level of success. The show follows David, a recent Art History graduate who lands a nondescript job at a nondescript company and as it turns out, his workload is non-existent.
It may seem like the dream but the situation soon drives David to increasing existential angst. Work trips with no actual work, the colleague with a theme song, the goldfish who pass comment from their bowl, the colleague who may be dead, the painting of Van Gogh who acts as his counsellor, the bosses who squabble over him – a veritable roll call of Kafka-esque supporting characters pushing him to the point where he is seriously questioning his sanity whilst we’re chortling away.
Aaron May’s David is an appealing central figure, and Jacob Aldcroft and Joe Topping are great value for money in covering everyone else. If there’s any comment to make, it is in the slight tension between sketch show and play – the former allowing perhaps too many ideas to allow the latter to fully work (the looping for example). Still, it is hugely imaginative and often hilarious, the interview scene in particular is a work of genius.
What’s Wrong With Me? – The Musical comes to us from Jess Coppen-Gardner (book and lyrics) and Rosalyn Miller (music and lyrics). Set in a retreat led by the hirsute and earnest Osmond, a motley crew of five have gathered in pursuit of greater self-knowledge and respite from their problems. And this being 2022, those range from toxic masculinity to extreme wokeness, unhealthy relationships with plants to belated comings out and of course, sex addiction.
But over the five days of the process, it becomes clear that Osmond might not be everything he claims to be. And the nature of everyone’s issues might be a little closer to first world problems than they would like to admit. With just an hour to play with, and six characters and five stages to cover, there’s a lot to get through and it is cheerily if a little unevenly done. The balancing act between quasi-serious subject matter and comic treatment is another challenge but the results are always heartfelt.
Miller’s score is often strong in melodic purpose – the opening number is a corker and you’ll leave humming the finale. If the show is to be developed further, it has the room for more musical sophistication though, utilising its six voices in more interesting, harmonic ways. It is good fun throughout though and the potential here is exciting.