Review: APPRAISAL, Tabard Theatre

A well observed and witty two-hander

By: Mar. 28, 2024
Review: APPRAISAL, Tabard Theatre
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Review: APPRAISAL, Tabard Theatre A cringy boss, a pricky employee and an annual review that goes rather wrong. Tim Marriott's sharp two-hander, Appraisal, made a good impression at the Edinburgh Fringe and now comes to the Tabard Theatre.

Head of department Nicky is having her yearly review with Jo, a senior manager in an unspecified company. Nicky finds the process unnecessary and tedious; Jo is overly keen to get it done in an efficient and "fun" manner. As the process goes on, tensions and frustrations on both sides escalate to an uncomfortable conclusion.

Review: APPRAISAL, Tabard Theatre
Angela Bull as Nicky

What works most about this production is the familiarity of the situation and the characters. If you've worked in any kind of office environment, you've probably had an appraisal of some sort and you have probably met both a Jo and a Nicky. Awful buzzwords and acronyms fly from Jo, as he tries to jolly a very unwilling Nicky along with him. Nicky is quick to anger and slightly unwilling to take criticism, despite being very willing to criticise her own colleagues.

Both actors are completely convincing in their roles. Marriott also stars as Jo; a little too familiar with Nicky, a little too willing to be jovial. He shows a real man behind the corporate talk, someone who is a little weary of life but desperate to appear enthusiastic and vital. He makes clumsy mistakes, but he tries hard, sometimes wildly misjudging situations. It's a well-judged performance, as it goes beyond the cliché of a slimy boss, simply dominating his staff.

Angela Bull is great as Nicky; present purely on sufferance. Her body language conveys a huge amount; sitting very straight, legs tightly crossed, hands clasped and eyes frequently rolling at the inane questions being asked. Bull shows great cynicism, but also often verges on bare-faced rudeness. It is a daring employee who corrects her boss's grammar and syntax to his face. 

Review: APPRAISAL, Tabard Theatre
Tim Marriott as Jo

It is sometimes darkly comic, with some interesting power play from both parties. The verbal tennis matches are realistic and very believable, as the script develops to reveal that both think they have the upper hand on the other.

There are a few parts of the script that could be a bit sharper, with perhaps more exploration of both Nicky and Jo's home lives; the snapshots we are given could add greatly to our understanding of their personalities. The end twist, when it comes, also could have more of a gut-punch.

Appraisal is a witty and very well-acted piece and has wide appeal due to the clever knowingness of its subject matter. You could do a lot worse than spend an hour in its company on a wet night in Chiswick.

Appraisal runs at the Tabard Theatre until 13 April

Photo Credit: Charles Flint




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