Getting Out

Sarah Henley’s first play is obviously based on her experiences in a law office, but happily, it is neither autobiographical nor full of angst. It is a rip-roaringly vulgar comedy and is a real treat even though sensitive folk might cringe at the language, the rude jokes and lack of political correctness. This is after all what comedy used to be about!

It’s primarily a series of character studies – a satirical look at how people behave in an office environment. These personages are all recognizable, although anyone who has never been in an office may doubt it.

The characters are well drawn and comically exaggerated. A prime audience pleaser is Timothy O’Hara’s Elvis-impersonating office junior. Like some of the other actors, he plays another highly dissimilar role and it must be a joy for the cast to be able to show off their versatility in this way. Tina the celeb-mad secretary is winningly portrayed by Shamaya Chalabi who also plays Berta, a terrifying German legal assistant to John the ruthless US partner.

Timothy Knightly doubles the role of John with the outrageously camp managing partner. Prudish Belinda is played by Kate Skinner who offsets this performance by her delineation of the ambitious, sexy Genevieve who will ‘give her all’ for her client base. Finally Bev (Law Ballard) and Colin (Phineas Pett) are a strangely naive pair of lovers (his love gift to her is a box of Dairy Milk and some tatty flowers with a BOGOF sticker on the plastic wrapper).

The performance is played out on a bare black set with desks and chairs as the only furniture. The actors remain on stage throughout, sitting on chairs at the side of the acting area – only changing articles of clothing to denote their different characters.

Be warned, there is a truly offensive and graphic lavatory joke, redeemed by a following descriptive scene, which has a largely familiar ring!

The two directors Gillian Foley and Francis Watson ensure the evening passes at breakneck speed which is admirable until it’s broken up by a preponderance of unnecessary blackouts which hold up the action and result in an inevitable waning of interest. But all told, this is a promising first play.

– Aline Waites