Last Wednesday’s Work Shirt – Camden Fringe, Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writers and Directors: Jacob Aldcroft, Aaron May and Joe Topping

If there were a prize for the best title of a Camden Fringe show in 2022 then Last Wednesday’s Work Shirt would win it. And for the most part, the show itself lives up to expectations.

It starts unseasonably with a Christmas party and some sharp disco dancing. David Staples ( Joe Topping), fuelled with drugs and confusion, is about to get in his car and drive down the wrong side of a motorway. But before this, demanding that the music be switched off, he wants to tell his story and explain the drudgery that has led him to this low point in his life. He takes us back six months or so.

With a first in Art History, David is looking for a job that is connected to his degree, but after living for a year on Universal Credit and hand-outs from his parents David applies for an IT job in a company where no one knows what they are doing. Despite – or because of – his lack of experience he’s hired. But there is nothing to do. The phone on his desk never rings and his inbox is rarely disturbed by an email. He thinks of quitting, but his bosses tempt him with company cars and raises.

Last Wednesday’s Work Shirt may have the premise of a Kafka short story with its examination of the pointlessness and dispiriting nature of bureaucracy, but here the humour is direct rather than surreal. Dumb Found Theatre’s story is more grounded than a Kafkaesque allegory, notwithstanding David’s perpetual surprise at the injustice of it all.

Often reviews mention how supporting actors in shows aren’t given enough to do, but in Last Wednesday’s Work Shirt, Jacob Aldcroft and Aaron May are given too much to do, distracting from the main narrative focussing on David. Aldcroft and May play a variety of characters from David’s parents to, improbably, a couple of goldfish that swim in a bowl in the office. They are very funny, especially when May plays a work colleague who invites David up to play golf in Scotland and when Aldcroft, who wears the best suit, plays a woman on the train on David’s daily commute. But their bantering pairings do little to move the story on.

Otherwise the show is as slick as a whistle and even a minor wardrobe malfunction doesn’t cause too many problems. And for a fringe performance the light design in clean and inventive. At 45 minutes, it’s possibly too short and out of the two endings, it’s the penultimate one that they should go with. Not every story should have a happy ending.

Runs until 6 August 2022

The Camden Fringe runs from 1-28 August 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

The Hamster is dead

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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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