Do you find that your first pit stop on the daily commute is a trip to Starbucks? Where ordering your daily dose of Caffe Latte serves as a boost of energy for the rest of the day? Constantly caught up in the manic moments of the rush hour, as thousands of fellow commuters each make their own way to their chosen destinations? Greeted by a barrage of customer complaints, emails and phone calls before you’ve even set foot into the workplace? Working the 9-5 can be a thankless task full of mundane and set routines, but what happens if you break the mould?
Breaking down the mundanity of the suited and booted workplace, Strike! playfully incorporates the world of the circus in a system dominated by production lines, sales targets and boardroom meetings. Directed by Keziah Serreau and produced by Turtle Key Arts, the production presents a labyrinth of cardboard boxes; a microcosm of incarcerated workers subjected to the unimaginative task of assembling parcels to be sent away.
Subtly referencing the coffee shop culture we now find ourselves living in, the ensemble humorously enter the stage with their faces covered in paper bags. Adorned with exaggerated facial expressions varying from smug grins to overly pronounced frowns, the cast surround a robotic and soulless Jan Patzke as he obediently goes about his daily routine of answering monotonous phone calls and rehearsed sales pitches. An imaginative incorporation of clowning, the paper bags cleverly poke fun at the mundane features of working day life. Cardboard boxes become portals to alternative destinations, miniature sources of light, illuminating the stage with various dreams and possibilities; as the cast unveil sounds of the seaside and the hustle and bustle of city life.
The workplace power structure is explored through a Piggy in the Middle inspired routine, with Jan Patzke tirelessly attempting to fit in with the crowd. Initially the conductor of the scenario, Patzke playfully controls the performers speech, creating a comical montage of chopped sentences and relentless competition. Alice Allart, Jose Triguero and Pablo Meneu commence in their playground taunts, creating an unforgiving hierarchy of childish rumours and immature pranks, as Patzke becomes the object of their ongoing tricks. The petite Olivia Quayle further emphasises the infrastructure of conformity and power as she relentlessly attempts to assimilate into the office environment. As the smallest member of the group, Quayle is consequently thrown around the stage as if a lifeless rag doll. Her feet failing to touch the ground as the cast effortlessly lift and hurl her through the air. Continually sustaining a sense of flight throughout her sequences, Quayle is show stopping and dynamic as the young professional attempting to fight against the old and traditional attitudes of the office based work place.
Triguero mesmerises with his entertaining juggling sequence; a dialogue all of its own as he presents a combination of the conventional and the complex. Not only does he present juggling in the traditional respect, but he also presents the art form as if it were his thought process, juggling around his body without a second thought. Adding a mathematical and scientific element to the production, the juggling sequence symbolises productivity, a means of following all of the steps in order to create the overall product.
The ensemble amaze and astonish as they incorporate Raymond Sarti‘s office inspired staging into the performance. A once office table, now turned climbing frame becomes the crux of the production; a Rubik’s Cube-esque box relentlessly rolled around the stage as the cast ascend, stand, swing and tumble both on the ground and in the air as they later become suspended in a series of dazzling sequences. Strike! offers an observation into the relationships and behavioural patterns within the workplace, as personalities clash and the concept of conformity is challenged. A fun performance fuelled with acrobatics, clowning and shifting perspectives that I advise you to go and watch! 4/5
Strike! is currently showing at Jacksons Lane Theatre, as part of this years CircusFest, for more information on the production, visit here…