Pros: The two actors work well together and the musical interludes keep the tempo up throughout the play.
Cons: The topic is complex, and since it’s covered in just over an hour, the show risks coming across as oversimplified.
I’m Just Here To Buy Soy Sauce premiered at Camden People’s Theatre in January 2016, as part of Whose London Is It Anyway?, a festival focused on the housing crisis that affects the capital. After a short run at the New Wimbledon Studio, during the Illuminate festival, next month the show will stop for one night only at the Old Red Lion and at the China Exchange, but the producers promise more dates to be added.
During a one-hour, single act we witness the opposite but complementary ventures of two young couples struggling to come to terms with the foreign exploitation of London’s property market. The two pairs have specific goals to reach and they’re desperate to achieve them. Freddie (Alexander Wilson) is an Oxford graduate who – despite his dislike – has to keep his job as a real estate agent in order to pay his bills. His chief Cassandra (Joyce Veheary) is a career-centred shark, pushed solely by the constant urge to prove herself. Fraser and Charmaine (also played by Wilson and Veheary) watch their relationship crumble due to a failed attempt to buy a flat, after the sad acknowledgement that they couldn’t possibly afford it in a million years. A radical shift in the personal values of the two estate agents will reveal the inherent message of the play: financial manoeuvres often clash with ethical principles and, whenever we follow our egoistic needs, we are all responsible for the failure of the system. This is demonstrated by Freddie who, in the endeavour of pleasing his superiors, throws all his previous moral concerns out the window.
Most of the development is shown on stage, rather than told, thanks to the excellent work of Wilson and Veheary. Both actors seem to believe fully in their roles and the alternation between characters is reasonably smooth for a performance where they never leave the stage.
Whilst the lighting design fails to structure the transition between scenes – if not for temporary blackouts – the soundtrack does a great job in adding pace to a production that relies on a rather minimal set. The props are relevant, but the fact that they’re all exposed on stage from the very beginning can be quite anticlimactic at times.
Visually, what I enjoyed the most was the opening scene where, accompanied by loud music, Freddie and Cassandra are juxtaposed in their morning routine. The former is flying around London like a crazy bee, while the latter is doing some yoga and relaxing in her fancy office with a view. I’m Just Here To Buy Soy Sauce is rich in gags like this one. Its fluid writing is a pleasure to listen to and demonstrates that playwright Jingan Young has cherry-picked her words with a natural comic verve. It makes this show well worth catching next time it comes to town.
Author: Jingan Young
Director: Freyja Winterson
Producer: Pokfulam Road Productions
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.