Hello, Box Office – Theatre Deli, London

Reviewer: Nilgün Yusuf

Writers: Beth Wilson, Daniella Finch and Ted Marriot

In a dank, dark basement, a couple of co-workers dressed in white boiler suits and wearing cats’ ears have a crafty frisk behind some cardboard boxes. This is the Box Office-Office of a dominant theatre organisation set in a dystopian future of 2041. In this imagined world, fringe theatre is dead and Andrew Lloyd Webber is the sole investor in British theatre. When a surprise third co-worker arrives, who wants to learn from the ground up, the dynamic shifts. When there’s a promotion in the offing and a national announcement that only one production will be funded, the stakes ramp up and a fierce competition ensues. Who will win? Who will ‘make it?’ Who will succeed?

A loud and anarchic comic satire that comments on theatre’s star system and the lengths people will go to for a foot in the door, this production is written and performed by Beth Wilson, Daniella Finch and Ted Marriott, three friends who met at university in Nottingham. Informed by clowning and physical theatre, with perhaps a nod to Terry Pratchett, there are lots of silly walks and sudden screams, a kettle called Sue and instead of a door, people arrive and exit through a large paper tube.

The boss, Andy Isherwood, who may or may not be a swamp creature, is never seen but his presence is felt while the totalitarian visage of Andrew Lloyd Webber who has theatres called The Andrew, The Lloyd, and The Webber, is occasionally projected with flashing eyes and demonic utterances.

Hoping to join the Edinburgh Festival next year, this shoestring production by Five Pigeons Pecking a Bin Bag is part of Theatre Deli’s Shift & Space programme. Theatre Deli is an arts charity that fills empty spaces with artists, art, and communities across Sheffield and London which is why this show is anachronistically performed in the city of London in view of the Lloyds building.

But back to Hello, Box Office, an imaginative premise for a show with bold, energetic performances. One suggestion going forward would be to get rid of the visually challenging, scene-setting text projected at the play’s opening and replace it with voice-over which would be more accessible and less labour-intensive for the audience. Hopefully this daft-caper-filled hour, with a serious message at its core, will entertain more future audiences and not just jaded thespians but a broader swathe of comedy lovers and fans of tomfoolery.

Reviewed on 6 July 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Anarchic comic satire

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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