Review: ★★★★ Brilliant Jerks, The Vault Festival

Brilliant Jerks tells the story of ‘Silicon Valley’s sweetheart’ Uber, from three different perspectives: driver Mia, Coder Sean and CEO Tyler. All three of them face struggles on different levels, from the sometimes daunting intimacy of a car to the intimidating authority of the board room, and the work floor sexism in between.

Uber has growing pains. The company has grown exponentially, which has resulted in offices all over the world and exorbitant work trips to Las Vegas. But it is also struggling with a culture of sexism and toxic masculinity.

LIPSINK’s production, directed by Rosy Banham, is slick and clean, and Joseph Charlton’s three-hander is performed with speed and without unnecessary bells and whistles, making it a pleasant performance. Apart from some minor music and simple lighting, the production leans on the actors, who are strong enough to captivate the audience for the hour-long duration of the show.

Luke Thompson is convincingly annoying as CEO; he is the cocky and self-confident Alpha Male, with mannerisms and slang that are probably not only recognisable to Uber employees, but many a modern office worker. Mona Goodwin provides the more emotionally raw moments as the Manchester mother dealing with demons from her past, but switches accent and shoes just as easily to play side characters in the storylines of Tyler and Sean.

Charlton, who is a journalist as well as playwright, has clearly done his research, and although the actual name ‘Uber’ is never mentioned, provides an intriguing insight into the taxi app’s beating, corporate heart. Although the subject matter is sometimes heavy, the play never feels too dark. The three story-lines are interwoven in a clever way, with different narrators taking over from each other in a fast pace.

The Vaults are unfortunately not a great location for this play; the passing trains overhead form an easy distraction from the ongoing monologues, and the fact that the piece is performed in the round (or rather square) doesn’t contribute to the audibility of the actors’ speech either, at times.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that this is an interesting and entertaining show about the rise and fall of one of millennials’ favourite start-ups, that is very worth catching if it gets another run.

Merel van ‘t Hooft

Images: Dan Carrol



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