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BWW Review: THE BOSS OF IT ALL, Soho Theatre

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The Danish cult classic film is adapted for Covid times

BWW Review: THE BOSS OF IT ALL, Soho TheatreBWW Review: THE BOSS OF IT ALL, Soho TheatreBased on the 2006 Danish film of the same name by Lars Von Trier, The Boss of it All was first adapted into a play in 2013 by writer and director Jack McNamara for New Perspectives - an East Midlands-based theatre company.

Originally performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and Soho Theatre, the production has now been updated for Covid times. Using an ingenious concept featuring video calls and narration, The Boss of it All is streaming as a live production produced by Soho Theatre (co-produced by New Perspectives and in association with Derby QUAD). I saw the first of three days of performances.

The plot centres around Ravn, the boss of an IT company (played by Ross Armstrong). Sven, the actual president of the company, lives in America and has little communication with Ravn or the rest of the staff (apart from occasional emails), leaving Ravn to make the day-to-day decisions and mostly run the company alone. However, his employees aren't aware of this. In an effort to distance himself from any unpopular decisions that are part and parcel of running a company, Ravn pretends to merely be the manager and nothing more.

Prior to lockdown, workers at the IT firm have only communicated with Sven via email. Ravn realises that, in these current Covid times, the main avenue for communication will now be via Zoom calls. Finding his staff eager to include Sven in the meetings, Raun panics. Sven, the president of the company, is always busy. He won't have time to take part in meetings and Ravn worries the staff will realise he has more power over the running of the business than he's let on.

Anxious to maintain his cover and not reveal that he is the real person in charge, Ravn decides to hire an actress called Kristina (Josie Lawrence - whose character is gender-flipped from the original Kristoffer in the film) to pretend to be the infamous Sven.

Provided with little background on her 'character' or their previous dealings with the staff, Lawrence's 'Sven' has to take part in several meetings with people she's never met or even spoken to before. However, it seems they know her very well. Hilarity ensues as Sven's various relationships and past interactions with each of her employees are revealed one by one.

Lawrence is brilliant as the eccentric thespian Kristina, providing the perfect balance of outlandish comedy and realism to make Kristina's sticky situation amusing yet relatable. She's supported with strong performances from the rest of the seven-strong cast, whose scenes are live-streamed from their homes, in locations as far as LA and Mumbai.

Ross Armstrong is suitably tense as the anxious, borderline aggressive Ravn. Jamie De Courcey is thoroughly entertaining as oddball Spencer, while wonderful comic narration from Tone Haldrup Lorenzen (playing the role of 'The Voice') punctuates the scenes perfectly.

A scene between Kristina and head of department Gorm (played by Angela Bain) is a real highlight. Although initially cold towards Kristina during a group video call, it soon turns out that there's more to Gorm than meets the eye - much to Kristina's surprise.

The concept of presenting the piece using video calls, narration and group chats is ingenious. The cast work together extremely well, even managing to deal with what seemed like a slight hiccup in a scene between Kristina and Lise (Rachel Summers). What looked like a small blip in the connection meant a few lines had to be repeated - however it was barely noticeable and the pair dealt with the interruption calmly and completely in character. In fact, the interaction made the whole scene even more engaging.

Inventive, relatable and clever, The Boss of It All is a unique and relevant piece of online theatre which really does push the boundaries of what is possible in these difficult times.

The Boss of it All is on the Soho Theatre website until 20 September



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From This Author Laura Fuller