Have you ever thought about the people, living or dead, who you’d like to have dinner with?
Well, imagine that but it was a dinner party specifically for serial killers – and instead of dinner it was employees working in a dead-end job in an office.
Friday night saw the curtain rise on playwright Matt Fox’s latest production: Fred Ted Jack & Harold. Having an idea of what I was walking into I was incredibly intrigued to not only see the re-enactments of some of the world’s most notorious killers, but also how they would tie in with an office environment – turns out it’s a fresh take on office politics meets psycho killers.
Fred Ted Jack & Harold has edge, dark humour, quick wit, flawless stage transitions and unending misery. What I like about Fox’s rendition is that he was able to reign in on my, and I’m sure many others, distain for business bollocks – the mundane tasks and unjust management hierarchies. Not only did the cast break into the behavioural codes of mass murderers Ted Bundy (Steve Cowley), Jack the Ripper (Molly Campbell), Fred West (Peter Hynds), Myra Hindley (Heather Cowley), Harold Shipman (Andy Cunningham), and Liz Báthory(Sarah Bostock), but they also played into office stereotypes whilst managing to integrate certain character traits of the murderous ensemble through sinister humour.
Although the play took a while to get into, – suggestively could pull together tighter – it presented some interesting thoughts to take away which got me thinking. For instance, the studies into psychopaths in the work place and how in some ways they’re actually seen to be beneficial – think about it, the success of a billionaire businessman doesn’t come from having empathy. But on the wider scale it was an interesting angle to draw comparisons between hell and the workplace, using these specific characters to drive the notion of it as a ‘punishment’ – the very nature of the environment as being akin to eternal damnation.
The cast played off each other fluidly, and it was somewhat surreal to see a murderous gang moaning about menial office tasks. Steve Cowley (Ted Bundy) here was a highlight as he carried a certain finesse and charm throughout, and his character only grew from there – every line and action were delivered in a way which allowed him to come off very naturally. He owned it well. Another was Sarah Bostock (Liz Báthory) who gave off a combination of Will & Grace’s Karen Walker and Harry Potter’s Dolores Umbridge – it enabled her power stance to completely embody the office bitch as well as psychotic murderer. A killer combination.
All in all Fred Ted Jack & Harold brought something fresh and sadistically entertaining to the stage.
To get tickets for the production’s upcoming tour, click here.