If there’s one thing I’ve realised in the time I’ve been reviewing theatre, it is the wealth of young talent on display as emerging writers, actors and directors in London’s thriving pub/fringe theatre scene. The brains behind Not Quite are no exception. Between them, Georgina Thomas and Cassie Symes (or Thick ‘n’ Fast as they like to be known though presumably for their comic abilities rather than as pseudonyms for each of them!) have taken on all three of these roles to bring to the stage their irreverent take on that generally joyless experience, the job interview.
Throughout the course of a single 50 minute (interview length?) long act , Thomas and Symes take the audience on a breathless and often toe-curlingly hilarious showcase of the interview from hell. In that time, it is not just the hapless candidates that are up for scrutiny but also an often monolithic, bureaucratic and dehumanising selection process. With references to nepotism “didn’t your brother work here?”, class prejudice “you didn’t go to the right school!” and gender based assumptions “we expect you to wear high heels to work!”, it is clear Thick ‘n’ Fast are aiming to show that an interview isn’t always only failed because a candidate’s definition of handling a crisis is having to make her own houmous for a dinner party!
Thomas and Symes use physical theatre to good effect to demonstrate the absurd and somewhat surreal nature of the recruitment procedure. The scene in the ‘assessment centre’ where Cassie has to show lateral thinking skills is visually arresting and is a fine slapstick comedy moment. The pair are also adept at mime and both display a capacity for facial expressions which say as much as the words they are speaking. The opening filmed sequence showing the girls’ different approaches to the dawn of interview day and trying on a succession of unsuitable outfits, is inventive and shows their affinity with screen as well as stage work.
Not Quite is a testament to the writing, acting and directing abilities of Thomas and Symes. The technique of alternating the roles of interviewee and interviewer is clever, overcoming casting issues and allowing both to display different characteristics. However, there are times when the play appears to be more of a vehicle for the pair to demonstrate their acting and directorial techniques and the plot is secondary. It is sometimes unclear how the displays of physicality relate to the action in the interview room before it. Was Georgia’s hesitant final curtain call a deliberate attempt to denote end of interview awkwardness or simply an error of stage inexperience?
It is important to bear in mind, though that this was a preview performance of Not Quite which is being trialled for a potential run at the Edinburgh Fringe. It is not the finished article. Once any rough edges, such as the timing of backing music, are polished, the job offers will no doubt come in Thick ‘n’ Fast!
Photo Credit: Malachie Lucky