Theatrer review: Follow Suit

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: An office tragedy disguised as a clown comedy, this deceptive show is full of surprises.

Characters live out the stressful, banality of the office life they're willingly trapped in.
Characters live out the stressful, banality of the office life they're willingly trapped in.

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

****

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Four horrified faces twist on four figures, hunched behind a desk. Their rigid suits render them genderless and interchangeable. Finally they speak: “So”, “OK”, “Right”, “Great”. And yet somehow this is enough to convey the stressful, banality of the office life they’re willingly trapped in.

Stocks are counted, shares are shared, but one thing remains consistent: the panicked look that fills the characters’ faces, accentuated and made grotesque. And whenever one of them can’t take any more, there’s always one to snap their fingers or clap their hands. There is, it seems, camaraderie to be found within conformity.

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It’s a strange and static dance, within which there are occasional bursts of spontaneity; of tearing up papers and breaking free to the rousing sound of classical music.

These are enlivening moments that find joy from the excitement of rebellion. But soon the look of fear in the characters’ eyes returns: this is a place where the only kind of celebration allowed comes from making money and facilitating corporate greed.

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Occasionally, a strange man wanders into the office, carrying a sack, in what appears to be an innocuous act of replenishing a stationery cupboard but which is ultimately revealed as something far more shocking.

There’s a pertinent political point at the heart of what could easily be just another cute clown show, and it sits behind a flimsy metallic door.

An audacious, anti-capitalist ending brutally strips away the comedy – and asks us to consider to what extent we’re prepared to turn a blind eye to the unethical acts companies commit and that, through our hard work, we implicitly support.

It’s a topical message, but one that’s delivered with a punch as well as a smile.

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Until 28 August. Today 12:45pm.