Wake up. Bus to work. Office banter. Office tedium. Office misogyny. Meal deals. Emails. Calls. Customer abuse. Missing colleagues. Resentful interns. Loans. Debts. Life lost in the shuffle. An average day for an averagely content person? Or an increasingly unbearable consumerist bombardment chipping away at the soul?
Brad Birch’s challenging, thought-provoking and cumbersomely titled Even Stillness Breathes Softly Against a Brick Wall at the Soho Theatre achieves much of its biting humour and pathos by hitting uncomfortably close to home. The trials of 21st-century life, from wrangling with indifferent O2 operatives to the deluge of high-priority emails, are cleverly captured in a series of acute observations, sometimes for comic effect, more often as part of a creeping modern malaise.
Lorna Ritchie’s impeccable set conjures a life that we are socially programmed to desire, based in the chic urban flat with its familiar cultural tropes: requisite Apple Mac, ironic “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster, Fifty Shades of Grey on the bedside table, The Wire box set sitting accusingly by the TV. Birch takes a similar approach with his script, which began as a poem, using lyrical fragments to evoke the status quo of two people whose churning inner lives eventually spill out in a maelstrom of anarchy.