11 October 2009



RAG Theatre
(supported by the City of Port Phillip)

10 October 2009
Theatre Works

It's a strange feeling to see a stage that looks too much like how my brain feels, and love a show that made me laugh so honestly at my own life.

RAG Theatre’s Occupied is for everyone who has ever endured a day in an office.

Cheap desks, IKEA bins, old computers (with holographic smiley face stickers), coffee cups, attempts at recycling, folders, and chairs that spin create a design that makes the clutter look almost beautiful; if it wasn’t for the clutter.

Starting slowly and ritualistically, five ‘workers’ (Carla Mitterlehner, Marjetka McMahon, Jo Sloggett, Melissa Tauber and Fur Wale) remind us that our worship of money is what makes us enter offices – places that thrive on unnecessary chaos, but ultimately chip away at our souls though boredom.

Under the steady direction of Scott Gooding, Occupied was devised by the current RAG Theatre ensemble (RAG was formed in 1993) though workshops. The resulting series of vignettes about the ‘madness’ of offices, strip away the pretence of these environments and let us laugh at their absurdity.

“You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps.” There isn’t a workplace where this sign doesn’t appear – and everyone hates it because it’s true. The repetition of this clich√© and the examples of the madness that the office life leads to were so familiar and so ridiculous at the same time. Who hasn’t moved the stuff on someone’s desk to bug them or tried to do yoga in their chair?

There’s little dialogue, because work conversations are all the same and don’t say much anyway. The official ones are filled with ‘buts’ that blame other people (with some of the best outrageous excuses ever), while the casual chats are filled with untruths and a touch of crudity.

Occupied’s honest and hilariously accurate depiction of boredom sent me back to every job where I stamped my fingernails, wore an envelope as a hat, looked around the room through a postal tube telescope, built a folder house for my desk toy (that was there to cheer me up), wondered what those bitches were talking about behind my back or just wanted to climb under my desk and cry.

RAG Theatre, you are my type of people – thank you for reminding me why I never want to work in an office again.

More 2009 Fringe reviews.
This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com

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