Brighton Fringe 2008
The Office Of Correspondence
Venue: Komedia, Gardner Street, Brighton
Festival: Brighton Fringe
An original and fun performance that takes a risk and comes out smiling.
The great thing about taking pot luck in the Fringe Review hand outs is you never know what you are going to stumble into next. The Office of Correspondence bills itself as "The only interactive 1930’s office theatre. Part-time audiences required with good and bad typing skills." As Kitty Chattalot and I are wondering where to get drinks (it seems the komedia bar has closed) we are handed a job application form to fill in and hustled into the Komedia studio bar where we are greeted by the formidable receptionist who prepares our file and invites us to take a seat in the waiting room.
It’s at this point that the less intrepid audience applicant may feel a little bit nervous and begin to wonder what they have let themselves in for, but fear not, relax, sit back and enjoy the ride. If you have ever been to a murder mystery or if you have ever found yourself in the middle of a festival in fancy dress then you’ll feel right at home. In fact this group of performers from Brighton and London have been offering their officious outings at festivals and have obviously decided to see how it works in the theatre.
First things first, it’s a lot of fun. I like this kind of thing anyway but Kitty who is a little more wary perhaps found herself joining in and getting into character, "you just can’t help it".
There’s a hustle and a bustle and a sense of commotion about the room as audience applicants are lead from the receptionist to the ego massage area, the typewriter tests, the special assignments. Shady characters doing dodgy deals mingle with flirty flappers and prim and proper secretaries and every now and then spontaneous applause breaks out for the employee of the minute. The actors cleverly use the audience as their extras, weaving them through the room to cue and generally mixing it up with little scenes and sub plots.
Does it work in the theatre space as well as it might at a festival? I would have liked to see some stronger plotting and a through line for each of the characters but the improvisation, the games and tests work really well. I can see this piece developing into a Los Vagueness style party tent where every one turns up in costume ready to have fun with a live band, or into a piece of interactive street theatre.
This show gets four stars for it’s originality, for the attention to detail in the publicity and printed materials- it’s all been thought through really well- and because if you’re up for a guaranteed fun night of random play this is your best bet this weekend.