Theatre review: Fulfilment, Underbelly - Cowgate, Edinburgh

Fulfilment asks us to consider the human cost of our Amazon addiction.
Fulfilment asks us to consider the human cost of our Amazon addiction.
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In this part-documentary interactive piece, theatre company SharkLegs scrutinize Amazon and how they treat their staff.

Theatre review: Fulfilment, Underbelly - Cowgate, Edinburgh * * * *

We meet Roblox, a “personal fulfilment device” brought to life using a puppet comprised of boxes. It learns what its audience likes, and tries its best to deliver it. At first, its winsome charm is convincing, innocently exploring the world and trying to make them happy. This is how Amazon appears to its customers. The sickly- sweet audience interaction caters to our instinct to like anything gentle and approachable, no matter what threat it may pose.

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On the other side of the coin is the Amazon experience from the inside. The three-person cast dash madly from one end of the room to another, grabbing items and scanning codes while describing the day-to-day lives of employees. Their portrayal shows an exhausted and fear-driven workforce, although how much is true and how much is exaggerated is unclear. Nevertheless, the appalling stories of impossible deadlines and the ever-looming threat of being let go are painstakingly demonstrated through sweat and tears.

The cynical humour of the show digs deeper than just the working conditions of a company and criticises our consumerist society as a whole. Is a life-size cut-out of the Pope worth putting someone through a ten-hour workday with no sunlight? Would you want that Frozen beach towel if you knew employees were camping outside the warehouse to deliver it to you? Are the deals on Cyber Monday so good that they make up for the chaos they cause? Are you fulfilled? After this show, it will be difficult to look at the company’s cheery orange smile in the same way.

Until 25 August

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