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BWW Review: THE CO-OP, Jack Studio Theatre


Sparks fly at a failing acting agency

BWW Review: THE CO-OP, Jack Studio Theatre

BWW Review: THE CO-OP, Jack Studio Theatre Jimmy and Cazza once had a third partner in their acting agency co-operative, but he got a part in Silent Witness and hasn't come back. The heating doesn't work, the phones are still connected, but don't ring very often, and Cazza has been offered a job in recruitment. Then Beat poet, Charlie, turns up, survives the brutal banter and gets an audition for a toothpaste commercial - can his toothy grin put the smiles back on the faces of Jimmy and Cazza?

There's a lot of fun to be had in this absurdist comedy, much of it from the scenes Jimmy and Cazza, actors themselves, play out to keep their hands in and to pass the time in the cold. There's added poignancy in references to the impact of lockdown isolation on actors, so, as with all the best comedy, there's more than a tinge of tragedy to colour the laughs.

Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson gets plenty of cracks in as Jimmy, cynical but clinging on to the dream of the agency he founded with his now absent friend. Felix Grainger (who wrote the play with Fogarty-Graveson) has the tricky job of playing the loser who gets the audition and then the lucrative gig, but toothily delivers. Cara Steele gives Cazza the anger, but we only glimpse another side of her personality in a truncated storyline about her taking a job as a 'dinner companion' for a wealthy middle-aged man.

That's indicative of the key issue of the play - so much is thrown at the wall, some sticking, some not, that no storyline fully develops. There's a mysterious neighbour down the corridor, an overpowering mother, the total dedication of Jimmy to his dream, the now absent original partner - situations pregnant with comic potential, but zooming past en route to the next mini-monologue or bitchy conversation.

As is the case with many new comedies (and it does always seem to be comedies that provoke this observation) the play feels like a pilot for a TV show - we have the confinement, the conflict, the characters - and you do leave wondering what will happen next to our hapless threesome. Unfortunately, you also leave wondering what happened to the hapless threesome during the play too.

The CO-OP is at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre until 25 September

Photo - Giacomo Giannelli

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