Creators: Alan Mahon and Rhys Dunlop
Earlier this year the VAULT Festival managed to host seven of its eight weeks before we moved into lockdown. Although it’s not quite certain what competition it would have faced in the final week, it’s safe to say that the funniest show at the festival was probably Lad, by performer-writers Alan Mahon and Rhys Dunlop. Now the two men have moved online to give us Not Working From Home, but the results are just as comical.
Over a series of five short videos, Dunlop and Mahon play Dave and Jacob, two work colleagues, ignoring the fact that they are actually ex-work colleagues, as both were fired when the pandemic began. Dave doesn’t want to tell his girlfriend that he has lost job, and so every day he Zooms with Jacob, who is just as willing to have these meetings as it gets him away from his three flatmates.
Both men are sex-starved. Dave and his girlfriend are isolating at her parents’ house, where they are not allowed to share a room until they are married. Jacob, a philanderer at heart, is making do with what he calls the dark art of self-love. In this first episode the laughs come fast as they banter about sex and work. The humour is laddish, but well intentioned, and Jacob is wonderfully self-depreciating.
It comes as a surprise in episode three to see a narrative emerge; these sessions are no longer just concerned with two men shooting the breeze as if they were mates meeting down the pub on a Friday night. Like Lad, this series has something important to say about masculinity, and about the way men fear to reveal their emotions to other men. With just the two actors on the screen, the short films are intimate in a way that is almost impossible for some men. With no other distractions, the men on Zoom can only look at each other.
To watch the five films will take 30 minutes or so, but you are left with wanting more. Will Dave’s prospective father-in-law discover his secret trysts and how will Jacob fare in his new job at the morgue? There’s plenty of scope for more episodes for these two talented and likeable actors. Also the tips they give out are invaluable. Salmon? Who knew?