at Warwick Arts Centre, Saturday 2nd February 2013
Last week, I wrote a piece considering the theatricality of past and current exhibitions in the Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre. I wasn’t aware then that Would Be Nice Though… would play with and challenge the dynamics of the space in a similar fashion to what I discussed. The piece, which is a cross between immersive theatre and performance art (if there is indeed a line between the two), is a charmingly witty and playful consideration of that most horrible of experiences, the job interview.
As we enter, we are asked to sit in the ‘waiting area’, joining other equally clueless looking potential interviewees. One of our number pipes up “I didn’t know what to wear”, sparking a debate about what we should wear to job interviews. Some of us chip in. She somewhat absurdly tells us about the ‘life-jacket’ she is wearing (it is in fact a waistcoat) before suggesting we should take a label from the table which shall henceforth be our name (mine is ‘Knuckle Cruncher’). This blend of surreal humour and broken barriers between audience and performer runs throughout Would Be Nice Though…, and is the cause of most of its charm.
I was particularly taken by the fact that, for around the first fifteen minutes, we all seemed to be working out who the performers were and who was a fellow audience member. Soon, however, it becomes clear that Holly Bodmer and Dot Howard are going to take us on a wild and wacky journey through a job interview process, including a presentation, some team-building games and pitches. Interestingly, however, after all this talk about job interviews, we never actually meet anyone from the ‘company’, and no one-on-one discussion is every forthcoming. It is forever beyond reach, never swimming into vision; this is a piece about everything leading up to and following a job interview, but not the thing itself.
It is testament to Bodmer and Howard’s skills as performers that we join with them on every step of this journey, guiding them around the gallery when covered in a postal bag or playing along with their use of bread rolls in ‘role-play’ (I’ve literally only just got that joke). They are our guides but they are also one of us, laughing at one another’s jokes, improvising with us and, if anything, acting more naturally than we are (is that possible? I don’t know. I think you get the point).
Knowingly or not, Odd Comic are here making a theatrical comment about precarity, focussing on a more and more troubled job market and the socio-economic conditions which are the cause and result of that. The surrealist humour, it could be suggested, comes from an inability to understand this muddled, confused world, as many find it increasingly more difficult to secure jobs even though a few live in the laps of luxury; when faced with this utterly illogical world order, perhaps pretending waistcoats are life-jackets is the only logical response.