A review by Bernie Whelan for EXTRA! EXTRA!



Theatre 503 presents


By Suzie Miller

Directed by Natalie Ibu

Theatre 503

19 April - 14 May 2011




Suzie Miller is a courageous playwright who seeks to open debate on issues like what happens to child killers when they grow up, in the case of Transparency and racism in Australia in All the Blood and All the Water. In Sold, she has brought her incisive legal mind to bear on estate agents dreaming up misleading property descriptions in their desperation for sales on a High street near you. Parasitic on the property boom in the ‘80s, which made buying and selling homes a quick way to turn a profit, estate agents have gone forth and multiplied, among the most proliferate and possibly, least popular of Thatcher's children. A play examining how they work is as good a way to question a tired old economy, where the goal is to make money out of money, as any. We are still on this dizzying money go round, symbolised in Miller's play by the constant circular movement of office chairs in Granger & Co. Estate Agency, where the poverty of each character's inner life is finally exposed under the cruel fluorescent lighting illuminating the space between the horrible ceiling and thin carpet floor tiles (set design by Garance Marneur) where they must lie and cheat to gain the trust of their clients in order to make the big sale. Desperate boss Gary (Matthew Raymond) knows his business is on a knife edge, so he sets his employees against each other in a 'dog eat dog' competition to sell a property on millionaires row, Bishops Avenue.

In Act I, the characters are introduced by means of the morning motivational meetings. This is a satire, so each character hams it up with larger than life stereotypes. The female actors were particularly strong - Kellie Shirley played the pretty new receptionist/trainee Mandy, the Essex girl with 'Carry On' style charm masking a subtle but deadly cruelty and Hillary, perhaps the least self-conscious character and the most slavishly devoted to the job, was played to perfection by the accomplished Abigail Thaw. The most affecting scenes were those between Hillary and the more moral and therefore less successful agent, Anthony (Henry Everett). Hillary despises Anthony as a loser only slightly less worthy of contempt then the hapless, hopeless Stan (Jamie de Courcey) but when she crumbles, she turns to Anthony for sympathy. There was a natural rapport between the actors which gave depth to a play heavily reliant on satirical comedy with some moments of real human warmth and compassion.

Act II forces the audience to look beneath the surface and confront the alienating effects of this kind of work; each character except the boss gets a monologue spoken directly to the audience which reveals the same search for significance in a world which appears meaningless. Each story is equally compelling. The terrifyingly perky Mandy tells Hillary "I learnt early in life the magic rule: sex sells. I can't help it". Hillary, most admirable for her fight, reworks her smart business image accordingly, but another throwaway comment by Mandy about 'dried up' older women unravels her.

This is a witty, merciless attack on an impoverished contemporary culture where there seems to be no buffer between an aggressively exploitative and alienating workplace encroaching on an ever shrinking private sphere where relationships purely based on sentiment are less and less possible.

Theatre 503
503 Battersea Park Road
London SW11 3BW
Tues - Sat: 7.45pm
Sun: 5pm (Pay What You Can in person at the box office)
NB: Sunday 24th April: Easter Sunday - no performance
Friday 29th April: Royal Wedding - performance at 5pm
Box Office@ 020 7978 7040

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