It felt joyous to be back in the lovely Lion and Unicorn Theatre a mere month since my last visit, this time looking forward to the intriguingly entitled Sixty-Seven. Seat selected, my eye, as always happens, is drawn to the set, which tonight was adorned with office furniture, computers, and many cardboard boxes, the latter feeling rather out of place.
The first song we hear is The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love. A great song and an apt anthem, considering the two young women, Beth (Olivia Roebuck) and Jules (Alex Brailsford) work in a legal firm as float secretaries, both clearly unfulfilled in their jobs. Both actors are highly skilled at multi-rolling, with a wonderful chemistry between them, conversations feel very believable. with Jules talking of “waves of disappointment”. There is little doubt that both young and old alike could equate to their feeling of despondency and dread at the start of every working week.
From the outset the script is very comedic, including emails sent from Human Resources delivered via a female voiceover; the first announcing that excrement from the toilet has been walked into the office, and staff should check their shoes. And it isn’t long before we find out what Sixty-Seven refers to; Jules has calculated that she has another 43 years of work to endure before she will qualify for her pension, so will be sixty-seven when she can finally retire.
Beth and Jules are very different. Beth is an optimist, always making jokes and, much to the annoyance of Jules, reads out inspirational quotes, while in her spare time, she performs stand-up comedy. Jules on the other hand is a vegan activist. In one well-worked scene, they are at opposite ends of the stage, and as Beth delivers her stand-up routine, it is interjected by Jules protesting, loudspeaker in hand. The scene draws out their different approaches to life; one turning to humour to forget about the drudgery of her working life, the other passionate about her beliefs, with a desire to create a better world for everyone.
They clearly do not know very much about each other’s personal lives, but this changes when Jules reluctantly delivers the bombshell that she is pregnant. We are drawn deeper into her world as she delivers a poignant monologue as Beth stands on the side lines listening on, having been invited to the protest. Jules “speaks her truth” about wanting “a better world for my children”.
It’s via Jules that mental health is tackled; she reveals that she “sometimes gets quite sad”, and that “it’s never going to go”. It also allows us to see how workplace relationships can form and yet be viewed differently; whilst Beth worries, Jules tells her “We’re not friends. We’re work colleagues”. The play though ultimately returns to its comedic roots and ends on a note of amusement with that workplace nightmare of copying in the whole office to an email.
Sixty-Seven contains very pertinent themes of environmental impact and mental health, yet at its heart is a story about female friendship. Come the end I found myself wanting to know more about Beth and Jules. I also wished the script had got to the heart of the story quicker. Nevertheless, Sixty-Seven was a delight to watch.
Written by: Isabelle Stokes
Directed and produced by: Tiny Theatre Company
Sixty-Seven plays at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 18 December. For further information about Tiny Theatre Company check out their website via the below link.