Southwark Playhouse (venue)
06 March 2023 (released)
07 March 2023
In an era where ‘Tech Giants’ are controlling our lives and some showing little regard for the way the treat their employees, this play comes as a fitting reminder of these worrying traits.
It is very clear (though unnamed) which multi-billion-dollar taxi ordering app this is exposing and parodying, and it takes the interesting angle of exploring the growth and troubles through the eyes and lives of three of its people. A Glaswegian driver desperately trying to get her life back on track, A creative and bright coder who gets swallowed up in the euphoria of a rapidly expanding company. And a CEO and part founder, who struggles to maintain control as the inevitable sleaze starts to stick.
With three actors not only telling these stories but being all the other people within their opposing character’s lives it could make for a confusing production. Katy-Ann McDonough’s direction and some top rate characterisations avoid this, however in a 90-minute production there is little time to get into the real heart of all three stories.
In Joseph Charlton’s revelatory play, that was first seen as part of the VAULT Festival in 2018, he uses his journalism background to expose the pitfalls that arise in a company that grows from initial spark to massively successful all too quickly. He cleverly delivers the facts without it ever feeling expositional, with each character having levels of bravado that are shaken and then crushed by events linked to the Company.
Kiran Sonia Sawar as Mia delivers a captivating performance as the Glaswegian driver that has cope with a series of drunk passengers and their fumbled come-ons and abuse, whilst herself recovering from personal loss and problems with alcohol. It is her life and emotions that make the most impact.
As Sean, Sean Delaney, has all the charm and boyish enthusiasm of someone brought in as a successful young coder but lacking in awareness of how his whiles are viewed by others. They may act as friends but when overlooked for promotion and the ‘company leather jacket’ bring him down. He is perfect casting, and his timing and pent-up emotions are brilliantly handled.
Finally, as CEO Tyler, Shubham Saraf has all the annoying jargon and total bravado of a co-founder who gets swept up in how great he and his business acumen is without every considering any possible down fall. His delivery has the most humour as the audience enjoy the business jargonise, but what is impressive is when he switches to crumbling disbelief as his world implodes.
This is a production that is littered with great moments and great performances, but in dealing with three separate characters storylines its inevitable episodic nature is its possible weakness. To go through their emotional journeys all three needed more playing time. Its hard-hitting message is there though unfortunately a little rushed and muddied.