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Written by Susannah Radford   
Published on Wednesday, 20 August 2008

IT'S ALL TOO FAMILIAR.  From the man who cycles to work to the minutiae of objects that decorate the desk or the sweet promise of a work romance, this is the very obvious territory of the office space.  The Scott Room at the Assembly @ George Street has been transformed into a workspace of sorts - for a bizarre, bite-sized piece of office paradise called 'Paperweight'.

It's a day in the life of Harold and Anthony, two minions who work shifts processing orders.  They beautifully and painfully recreate, down to the minute detail, the mindless processes inherent in office work.  Life for them is a succession of opening, reading, processing and filing, to the extent that paper really does begin to have weight - see the pile of read newspapers containing the day's horoscopes piling up.

When life is reduced to a series of processes, it all seems a bit pointless; and therefore, Anthony and Harold amuse themselves with a series of pranks and games.  It's done in a low-key but delightful way, and it's very funny.  The cup of tea alone is priceless.

The near-silence the play is performed in works to a point.  The soundscape is varied, ranging from the barely noticeable to the more mechanical; and while listening to the jug boil perfectly sums up the monotony of their office life, the show could benefit from a slightly snappier pace.

Unsurprisingly, it's the outside world that has the most profound affect on these two lost souls.  They could almost be content amusing themselves, were it not for the phone calls from family members or other departments placing demands on their energy and emotions.  Yet despite obvious camaraderie, their relationship is confined to the office, and they don't cross the line into a deeper friendship; they connect over a funny forwarded email rather than support each other practically. 

'Paperweight' is a genuinely amusing and bizarre little piece.  As the mix of pranks and games build to a surprising climax Anthony and Harold's grip on reality gets a little confused, and by the end I wasn't certain what was real and what was intended to relieve the boredom.  What is most affecting, and what must drum away at their psyches like a dripping tap, was the call regarding a friend who committed suicide - and the comment in response that he must have been unhappy.  However, if you are waiting around in the Assembly @ George Street foyer, it's probably more confusing to see a man emerge naked from the Scott Room at the end of the show.

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