theSpace @ Niddry Street – Lower Theatre
Welcomed into the auditorium by the soothing notes of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1, we don’t quite know what to expect from Right Here, Right Now. The blurb on the EdFringe website is brief – merely promising a piece of physical theatre from China about three employees of the same company, whose divergent personalities lead to “frequent conflicts and clashes”. The promotional image is equally cryptic, being just a drawing with a deformed clock, two hands, a yellow balloon, a red mask and a white bedsheet – all items that will appear at crucial times later in the performance.
The action starts at a fast pace, with three people in smart clothes rushing for the bus and contending for the last free seat available like in a game of musical chairs. We follow them into their workplace, where ruthless competition and the race for a promotion are far more striking than real social skills and mutual respect. The monotonous routine of the nine-to-five brigade is portrayed to perfection, where low-ranked desk workers must compete constantly for the limited space in overcrowded cities, stepping over each other to earn the much-coveted approval of a far-removed boss, and trapped for life in a corporate machine that runs them into the ground.
The characters that all office workers will recognise from their first-hand experience are pictured with an acute eye for detail. Little Miss Perfect – aka the manager’s pet – is constantly preoccupied with her impeccable appearance and thrives on making the others look bad. By contrast, the slightly inept but harmless office clown is mainly interested in keeping her own stomach full. Caught between them, a scruffy young man, has the most boring job and is helplessly disengaged. As we get to better know them, we’re also given a rare opportunity to spy the passions that burn in their heart, their dreams of alternative lives and the fears that haunt them: these scenes are raw and magical.
A mosaic of different physical artforms – including Peking Opera – and various musical genres adds texture to a compelling performance, whose caricatural tableaux stretch beyond cultural boundaries and can be thoroughly enjoyed by a global audience.
Produced by: Dessert Theatre Studio
Right Here, Right Now plays at EdFringe 2023 until 12 August, 2:10pm at The Space @ Niddry Street. Further information and bookings here.