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Would Be Nice Though...
Published on Monday, 20 August 2012
2

2 stars

Pleasance at Essential Edinburgh
Theatre
3-18 Aug, 12:30pm-1:30pm, 4:30pm-5:30pm
Reviewed by Allison Mckeon

 Recommended for age 16+ only.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

I read the description of this show and my interest was piqued – I love The Office, and I think the best performances make the audience recognize something (in comedy’s case, laughingly, “That’s so true!”). But the actual performance was a let down. For the show to have been good, and for the trek uphill and down George Street to have been worth it… Would’ve been nice, though.

In all fairness, participatory can often be uncomfortable. Sometimes it can be uniquely engaging, but often it seems to shift the burden of performance onto the shoulders of the audience and lessens the experience of the show. This was unfortunately the case with Would Be Nice Though…, a performance set in an office space meant to caricature the anxieties of a job interview.

I think conceptually there was some merit to the idea – shutting the small audience into a real office room without explanation to provoke pre-interview apprehension, for example – and there were some quite successful jokes, with a dry delivery which made me laugh out loud. But neither of these positive qualities can outweigh the actual viewing experience. You know that feeling of babysitting children, when they try to engage you with something they find amazing but you find mundane? You know how you struggle to look politely impressed? That’s how the whole hour felt.

It was just overdone and cheesy, and I became almost resentful that I would look like a sourpuss if I didn’t carry on smiling and indulged my faint inclination to leave. It would be an example of supremely ironic, intelligent humour to elicit in the audience the same burning (secondhand) shame for the actors that the characters supposedly feel at having been rejected from their desired employer. However, this was purely accidental.

Lowlights: ten uninterrupted minutes of actors wiggling around on the floor to mimic crippling embarrassment (if only I’d had some agency in putting an end to this, as a necessarily active audience member). Bread rolls batted through the air as a flatly obvious, physical comedy b/pun (look, I can do it too).

If Team Building Activities and slapstick comedy are for you, you might enjoy this show more than I did. Generally, though, if you’re particularly susceptible to second-hand embarrassment or don’t have a highly-developed taste for physical theatre, it’s not up your alley.

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