Reviewer: Richard Hall
Now in its fifth year, the Incoming Festival is visiting HOME as part of a celebration of the best of emerging theatre companies across the UK. Manchester has a long-established tradition of hosting festivals dedicated to new writing and emerging theatre and this festival has a dynamism and freshness about it that is perfectly suited to HOME and its environs.
Lost Watch the creators of Left My Desk make shows which in their own words are based, ‘on honest and gripping stories with no set rules of style or content.’ Based on research, interviews and testimonials, this gritty and intense sixty-minute play about social work, highlights the pressures that social workers face on a daily basis and the growing crisis unfolding throughout the system caused by low retention rates and shrinking budgets. Centred on a twenty-something, social worker, Becca, the play shows her and colleagues dealing with almost impossible workloads, leading fractured personal lives and ultimately reaching breaking point.
The play cleverly weaves elements of Becca’s professional and personal lives and through meeting a succession of her clients, all of whom are damaged goods, the audience get to see not only the effect this has on her and her relationships but also the strain it puts on the service and her colleagues. Poignantly, having recently suffered a miscarriage, Becca meets a young mother who cannot decide if she wants to keep her baby.
At one point having experienced yet another setback, Becca, declares that the system is, “fucking horrendous,” a sentiment no doubt shared by many watching the play. Sadly Left MyDesk, says nothing new, we all know that the public sector is under immense pressure, badly funded and under-resourced but what this compelling play succeeds in depicting is the personal cost of working on the front line. This really is a play that should be seen by decision-makers from all political spectrums, including MP’s and leaders from all of the leading public sector organisations.
It is good to see a company of this quality tackling contemporary issues in such a bold and imaginative way. As there was no cast list or programme available, I cannot individually credit the performers, writer and director. However, they are collectively to be applauded for producing an intuitive piece of theatre with bags of conviction and passion. Left My Desk is not only a wonderful piece of storytelling it is also a powerful rallying call for urgent intervention and radical change.
Reviewed 6 July 2018 | Image: Contributed