In this day and age, it is relatively common to say one has a “day job” – a form of employment undertaken purely to earn some money – and a vocational pursuit, one that you think of as reflecting the real ‘you’. I’m very much in this bracket too, with my (soon to come to a close) stint at Female Arts as something that is a truer reflection of the real me.
Devised by female-led Fanny Pack Theatre, and written and directed by Evi Stamatiou, Day Job is a comedy that beneath its humour has some serious comments to make about society’s relationship to work, especially if you’re a woman. Using the bus ride to/from work as a focus point, four women attempt to reconcile the practicalities of work with their long-term aspirations – or at the very least muse over the matter. As a bus driver who has to start her shift at 5am, Stephanie Merulla’s character is pretty much focused on getting through the day. Who are these people who have the energy to have second, separate ‘careers’?!
Clare Langford’s Irish escort has a conundrum – what to do about being made pregnant by a rich, ‘important’ client. Things are made further complicated by her employers who claim her contract gives them the right to clam her child as their property and will ‘work’ for them too in the future. As a nominal Catholic, Langford’s character fears she will go to hell if she has an abortion, while her child’s life would be a living hell if she lets it live…
If Medulla and Langford play quieter, more subdued characters, then Maria Alexe and Rachel Scurlock have more than their fair share of boisterous moments as the escort employers – their dynamic reminiscent of Edina and Bubble in Absolutely Fabulous. However Scurlock’s turns as a lawyer and headmistress, and Alexe’s frustrated French teacher-cum-singer leave an indelible mark on the evening, encapsulating the doubled-edged nature of ‘working’, which often makes too many demands on one’s time to enable the pursuit what one really wants to do.
For all the serious issues the play raises, Day Job manages to strike a dark comic tone that’s a natural fit for the play. Indeed, it could be argued that is why some of the more ‘extreme’ scenarios could be broached at all. I honestly think the chemistry of these actors with the input and influence of Stamatiou has produced a show that has a distinctly feminine energy and insight – a potent mix that would have been diluted had it been written from a male perspective.
© Michael Davis 2016
Day Job runs at Bread & Roses Theatre, London until 10th December 2016.