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Dining al Desko: Etcetera Theatre

There’s something quite desperate at the heart of the office environment as depicted in Tightrope’s Dining al Desko. It’s people-pleaser receptionist Julie, who has an OCD belief that it all starts with the desk, or perhaps Trish, PR intern on the make with her hashtags and love of insta but hatred of her fellow workers; even creepy boss Mark, who is never seen but whose #metoo presence is certainly felt. It’s definitely Tom, cooking the books in the basement (metaphorically and literally in hell), losing huge sums online and who can’t get his wife and kids to ring him back.

Thus the games of life and death are played out in an office where the rule of those in charge is that you just leave the lower forms of life to slug it out between themselves (divide and rule), then you move in to take your pick of the pretty ambitious ones, only to find yourself perhaps on the sharp end of their ambition…

Christopher Page (Tom) in Dining Al Desko, performed by Tightrope Productions at NSDF 2018. Photo Credit: Giulia Delprato

There’s a moral here, a warning to corporate culture to take some responsibility for the way in which it manipulates its employees. The small and committed cast embody their characters’ arcs – Julie (Mia Georgis) fresh-faced and enthusiastic, eternally demoted from receptionist to coffee-lady and toilet cleaner; the steely Trish (India Opzoomer) at first so superficial and airheaded but in the end becoming what she beholds; and most tragically, Tom (Christopher Page), a man with literally nothing left to lose.

A packed house paid close attention – after all, it’s a world we’re all too familiar with. The gladiatorial nature of office politics is laid bare. There are flashes of humour, thank god, or this would be unbearable, but it’s the laughter that dies in the throat, in SEEN’s opinion the best sort. Special mention to the inventive set, invoking Tom’s personal hell, Julie’s pristine desk and Trish’s yoga mat in the multi-faith space – no mean feat on the Etcetera’s tiny stage, that also cleverly utilised a multimedia screen to good effect. It’s on again on the 22nd July before it goes to Edinburgh for the Fringe in August. Grab a ticket while you can.

Etcetera Theatre
Oxford Arms
265 Camden High Street
Camden Town