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Temp/Casual (Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Temp/Casual is the bitter-sweet tale of growing up and losing grip, finding your place and then messing up. First performed as a 60-minute piece at 24:7 in 2009, it now plays at an overt 90 minutes. Director, Ben Power and his talented cast have a production which is wonderfully acted with flashes of brilliant direction and have done their best with what feels like a muddy, much-ado-about-nothing story.

A choreographed ensemble opening introduces the weird and wallowing characters as they make their way to work or to school, travelling by bus, by train, holding up placards that read, ‘I want to be famous’, or , ‘I’m still undecided’ and we’re given a glimpse of what is at the core of each of them. The staging is simple and scene changes are nicely worked.

The production is a multi-media experience which would be all the more powerful were the script stronger. The writing is the stumbling block. It is unclear really why an extra thirty minutes have been added and it is never revealed what, if anything, the point is.

Steve Timms is a competent writer but his skill lies in his ear for naturalistic dialogue; sometimes funny and, at times, very moving rather than the plotting which is lost amongst the plethora of characters crowding for attention. ‘Alter Ipse Amicus’ is uttered throughout the piece and at one point, one of the characters reveals, ‘a friend is another self’. If this is the nub, it is literally lost in translation.

Special mentions go out to Kate Newton whose subtle nuances as a performer lifted Susan off page and also to Curtis Cole as the loveable rogue, Stick. Cole is an actor to watch as his career trajectory will surely take him far beyond fringe theatre boundaries.

Also, a well-deserved mention to David Corden for not only playing six characters but also for his seemingly magical disappearances and reappearances from each of the four entrances in lightening speed! Power, being a trained actor in his own right, has that rare gift of being an ‘actor’s director’ and it’s clear that he’s a talent with feet firmly in both camps.

Temp/Casual is worth a watch to see what this terrffic team do with the material.

- Lucia Cox


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