On the evening of 9th of November, The Sussex University Drama Society (SUDS) presented its first performance of this academic year: Fragments From Your Workplace. The 40-minute piece, written by Sofia Rendall and directed by her and assistant-director Katie Sassienie, was a conjunction of three short plays united in their satire of workplace motivation in different contexts.
The first play, The Pursuit of Betterness, was a monologue of a motivational speaker whose discourse’s single purpose was to help the audience members become ‘better’. Without getting up from behind her table on the side of the stage, the speaker captured everyone’s attention (and chuckles) with her intense and lively perfomance as she flicked incessantly through slides projected on the back of the room. The speech ended with the typical moment of a “member of the audience” being asked on stage to tell their life story, who was then rewarded with free guidance from the speaker for the next 50 years of their life. The performance ridiculed the empty rhetoric, lack of a clear end-goal and vague assertions we are all used to hearing from motivational speakers.
The second piece was made up of two people facing the audience from behind their desks, conducting a job interview with an invisible person. This mystery individuals unsatisfactory responses always seemed to leave them muttering “I see” as they rolled their eyes at each other and scribbled down on their notebooks. As the interview went on their tone became progressively louder and more frenetic, their eyes wider, as the questions moved from mundane ones to completely unsettling and inappropriate ones. Then, with a break in the then near-shouted questionnaire, the interview would appear to return to normal, only to start the crescendo of oddness and insanity all over again.
The third and final piece, The Conference, portrayed the successive meetings, seemingly without any purpose or structure, of the organising committee of a conference. A violent drunkard; a woman who was always thinking about preparing dinner and afterwards watching ‘the soaps’; an awkward guy who found it impossible to assert himself and a woman obsessed with a cycling incident in her childhood.
These four characters didn’t so much speak, but rather each of them rambled about something unrelated to the conference they were meant to be organising, and the meetings seemed to always degenerate into their personal problems.
Harvey Almond, Liv Grant, Saraya Haddad, Sophia Kendall and Ben Rowe were the actors who brought to life these caricatures of incredibly gone wrong professional scenarios and, with the quality of their performance, made them at the same time believable enough despite all the unlikely occurrences that took place on that stage. All in all, Fragments From The Workplace was an absolutely hilarious play whose disarming embrace of cringeworthy situations got the audience bursting out with laughter all the way through to the end.