Following a highly successful premiere at the National Theatre of Strasbourg, where it won the prestigious Grand Prix de la Littérature, Alexandra Badea’s The Pulverised arrived at the Arcola Theatre this week with a new English translation.
Rebecca Boey (Sugar Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie, Arcola Theatre; Crystal Springs, Park Theatre; Island, National Theatre), Richard Corgan (Growth, Love Lies & Taxidermy & I Got Superpowers For My Birthday, Paines Plough; The Merchant of Venice, Singapore Repertory Theatre; Gardening: For the Unfulfilled And Alienated, Edinburgh Fringe), Solomon Israel (Dutchman, Young Vic; I Know All The Secrets In My World, Tiata Fahodzi / UK Tour; Octagon, Arcola Theatre) and Kate Miles (The Grouch, West Yorkshire Playhouse; Troilus and Cressida, RSC; On Ego, Soho Theatre) star in this important, relevant, and marvellously applicable piece.
A quality assurance officer from France, a call centre manager from Senegal, a factory worker from China, and an engineer from Romania – in four corners of the world, they all have one struggle: they do not seem to have any room left for their own thoughts and their work is taking over their lives. Every single one of them wants something that they don’t currently have; but it’s nowhere near as simple or shallow as that.
Richard Corgan opens the show with the first monologue of many. I love the format, an entire play full of monologues proves that you can write a whole story based on four people’s thoughts – which for me, is fascinating. The fact that he is not ignorant yet tries to reconcile injustice will, I’m sure, speak to any consumer. Rebecca Boey made me understand what it is like to be working in a factory in China, where you have roughly a meter square of space and aren’t allowed to go to the toilet. Obviously, I don’t understand that, but she made me feel like I did. Solomon Israel made me laugh about things that shouldn’t be funny, which I think is a big achievement for any actor because my sense of humour is quite stubborn. Kate Miles’ frank and somewhat satirical tone meant I found her incredibly endearing.
Then there were hand movements… oh, the hand movements. I don’t understand conceptual theatre. I don’t even quite understand what they were trying to get across to me with their hand movements, but I do understand that they were intricate and fantastic. The lighting and WEIRD sounds added were also cracking. I don’t even know what makes lighting good but let me tell you this – the lighting in this production is brilliant. Impressive, noticeable, and yet perfectly subtle.
I wish I could pick a stand out cast member, because it shouldn’t be difficult given there are only four. They were equally brilliant though and brought such intricate and different aspects to the four corners of the same story, that I honestly couldn’t single one out.
One of the best and most thought provoking plays I’ve ever seen – definitely a must see for, well, everyone.
Andy Sava comments;
“The Pulverised is an urgent tale about multinational corporations, and how they have changed our lives through eroding all borders and boundaries. The play tracks the journey of a character who is following the sun, on a round-the-world business trip – it reveals how extremely close and how intimately connected we are, from Shanghai’s factories to Bucharest’s “silicone valley”. Through the storms of market head winds, the personal dramas of failed performance targets, love stories, despair and death, The Pulverised gives us a full throttle unadulterated encounter with our present day working lives.”
The Pulverised plays at the Arcola Theatre until 27th May, and will then go on to play at York Theatre Royal from Wednesday 31st May – Saturday 10th June.
The Pulverised production images are courtesy of Dashti Jahfar.