Review: Brilliant Jerks, Southwark Playhouse

Strong performances bolster the occasional slightness of the writing in Brilliant Jerks at Southwark Playhouse

“We’ve created jobs for people who thought they’d never work again”

Much like the forthcoming Sugar Coat, Joseph Charlton’s Brilliant Jerks was previously seen at the VAULT Festival (in 2018 in this case) but now rocks up at Southwark Playhouse in a redeveloped and extended format. Katie-Ann McDonough’s production has real style in its presentation and skill in the handling of its multiple strands.

Charlton offers up a cautionary tale about the creation of a multi-billion-dollar app which is never named as Uber but, you know, might as well be. Three distinct stories are told from within the company – a driver, a programmer and the founder himself – journeys at different levels but essentially connected.

There’s much of interest here, underpinned by Charlton’s previous career as a journalist investigating the company that isn’t named here. But whilst he can generate atmospheric detail and toxic authenticity well, his dramatic structuring needs work. Delivered as monologues that eventually morph into scenes, the rhythm of the piece is thus somewhat strange.

Sean Delaney, Shunham Saraf and Kiran Sonia Sawar all impress with their performances, both as their respective lead character and the multitude of supporting roles they bring to the other strands. A dark vein of comedy ripples throughout but a tendency towards over-emphatic plot twists prove distracting from the kernel of a timely and strong concept.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Nick Rutter
Brilliant Jerks is booking at Southwark Playhouse until 25th March

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