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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The Third Sector

Pure Theatre LLP

Genre: Drama

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard


Low Down

Biting, satirical exchanges which pose serious questions about the corporate world in which most sizeable charities now operate. 


Google ‘The Third Sector’ and you’ll get a confusing array of websites, featuring organisations from the very small and altruistic through to those that have the look and feel of a corporate behemoth. Paolo Chianta’s imposing new work of the same title doesn’t quite have the cache to feature at the top of any search engine but it’s only a matter of time, given the disturbing image he leaves of a sector that has become increasingly reliant on the giving public’s indifference as to the way their donations are deployed.
‘Transplants for Britain’, fronted by a one-hit pop star wonder from the 1980’s, wants you to give it a piece of yourself, especially after you’ve left this mortal coil. But behind the tug at the heart strings of the gullible public lies an organisation that believes in charity beginning at home. Our front-man conceals Carmel, his wife who has an eye for a safe Parliamentary seat in a fashionable part of London, Eve, who just wants out of the charity sector and Jenny, a call centre fund raiser with a conscience. 
There’s also Marlin, who has returned all dewy-eyed from a gap year in Uganda helping those who are unable to help themselves, an enchantingly innocent ingénue, just ripe for the attentions of Josh, a PR man who learned his trade in the world of sugary drinks whose urbane, cold, calculating and, ultimately shallow personality are finally exposed in a clever, allegorical denouement.
Chianta’s play is full of biting, satirical exchanges which poses serious questions about the corporate world in which most sizeable charities now operate. And strong performances in the key roles of Josh (Toby Manley) and Marlin (Isla Lindsay) ensure that this seventy-five minute piece never flags. The earthy Eva-Jane Willis provided convincing support in the two pivotal roles of call centre worker and homeless drunk but (and it’s a minor ‘but’) a bit more development could be undertaken with the characterisation and delivery of the other parts. In addition, one or two of the blind alleys that the plot veered into could be closed out – less is often more and might increase the show’s already considerable impact.
But Lilah Vandenburgh’s creative direction makes use of every nook and cranny of this intimate Pleasance Bunker venue so the play’s message remains clear – if you’re working in the third sector and can empathise with much of what is being said, then it’s probably time you moved on.