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Job Seekers Anonymous, Etcetera Theatre

Written and Performed by Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit (AKA Booise)

★★★
Pros: Fun, fast paced, topical and true. Uses slapstick to wonderful and meaningful effect.
Cons: No clear message. Mainly focussed on the frustration of navigating the current benefits system rather than on seeking a job as the title suggests, even though it’s punalicious.
Our Verdict: A really fun piece of theatre to watch as it uses the truth and personal experience to give an insight into the world of government support for the unemployed. Will be even better with more development.
Courtesy of Sh!t Theatre
“So, what do you do?”
I hate this question. It is not only lazy small talk but it makes you no more than your job. What if you don’t like your job? Or know that your job is boring to anyone who isn’t doing it? And what if you don’t have a job? How do you feel then?
The latter is what Sh!t Theatre’s Job Seekers Anonymous explores with energy, hilarity and hulas. It is a wonderfully comic expression of exasperation that engages from start to finish. I can’t say there was a focal message to the show, but the overall feel from the performers (for lack of a program I’m going with their self-titled ‘Booise’) was that society blames the unemployed for being irresponsible. They effectively highlight how the jumble of government systems is a joke, and use slapstick in a way that makes you feel like they do: that you really do have to laugh. Otherwise you’ll cry.
Jumble is also a good word to describe the show; it is a loveable jumble. There are so many ideas that the performers want the audience to understand, and so ardently, that you really do feel the frustration of their experiences. You leave the delightfully cosy theatre space agreeing that the system is a mess that blames the unemployed for their predicament. However, there is so much to take in that it was never quite clear what the message is rather than “AARGH”! There lacks a strong underlying foundation and they seem to have focussed on what they want to tell you rather than what they want you to hear.
The strongest part of the show was the performers’ ability to affect the audience. From the mingling beforehand to the use of song (The Expect song is right on the nail). There were many points at which I laughed out loud and parts where I wanted to clap. I think Booise are going to be really fantastic performance-comedians because of their ability to connect with you, but it needs a little fine tuning. All the jokes were funny, but some went on a little too long.
The show effectively built solidarity with the audience regarding their feelings of frustration. It reminds those who have been unemployed not to forget how hard it is and it shows people who’ve not experienced being out of work before that being unemployed doesn’t equate to not wanting to have value in society. The space was used well and the props were all wielded to perfectly illustrate their points (except perhaps PowerPoint once or twice at the start). The costumes were enjoyable, as they played with a mockery of idealised gender which supported their questioning into what was expected of them.
Booise are masters at setting a pace, knowing when to speed up, slow down, break tension, hit the punchline and kept interest fervent throughout. It makes for a very entertaining show and some good fun. It’s nearly finished. They just need to figure out what it is they’re trying to say and be ruthless with the content untill they create comedy which is as clear as it is currently clever.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Job Seekers Anonymous has now finished its run at the Etcetera Theatre. For more information about Sh!t Theatre visit their website: http://www.shittheatre.co.uk/.

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