Markee Rambo-Hood on a bold but flawed performance of Paperweight at the Citizens Theatre
Paperweight details the struggle of two office workers and the monotony of their office life. The play follows a working day in the life of Harry and Anthony (devised and played by Tom Frankland and Sebastien Lawson), whose time is filled with mindless tasks include blowing up balloons, stuffing paperwork in envelopes and taking messages from the answering machine. The result is a performance that mirrors office life to such an extent, that if not for the short length of this play, it would be easy to be bored with the piece.
Unfortunately, the build and the culmination are the only genuinely entertaining qualities of the performance, as both Harry and Anthony divulge further and further into their insanity.
The climax comes as Anthony snaps from the pressure of turning thirty, combined with the unhappiness of his life, he strips nude and destroys his computer.
This moment is such a release from the excessive monotony of the rest of the show that you do experience Anthony’s liberation along with the character on stage.
Sadly, however, the play operates as a considerably less funny version of the TV series The Office, and does not offer any further commentary on aspects of white collar life.
Where the show ought to be commended is in its willingness to embrace naturalism to its fullest extent, as experienced during a scene when both actors remain completely still during the time it took for them to boil water in a kettle.
The further use of naturalistic lighting (two florescent lights and a couple of lamps) and sound (almost all noise is derived from the device intended to make it; so, for example, music from computer speakers are actually projected from computer speakers, instead of the sound system) is a bold and unusual move.
That so little theatre is prepared to take these risks, opting instead for a more fabricated show that operates as a spectacle, makes Paperweight come as a pleasant relief.