Paperwork, Theatre Review. Unity Theatre, Liverpool.
Cast: Katy-Anne Bellis, Jan Rule, Claire Jones.
For anyone who has contemplated it, the afterlife is pretty much like being here. Full of red tape, forms to fill in, stamped, counter stamped and ruthlessly checked over, strangers to sit next to and while away the hours whilst they wait for the bureaucratic nonsense to subside and the Angel of Death to become a quivering wreck. Such is the premise of Paperwork.
This latest three women play takes everything you’ve ever thought of what happens after you die and turns it on its head so marvellously that you might not completely understand what’s going on at all times within the performance space at the Unity Theatre but there won’t be a moment where boredom kicks in. The afterlife wasn’t built for that type of eventuality.
As the audience walks in to the Studio 2 theatre space; armed with their own questionnaires with the important enquiries of life such as,” how many times have you felt pure joy?” or “how many times have you cried?” or “how many snails have you stepped upon?” (all the important things that define an existance), to be greeted by a moving file holder, bumping, churning, whilst a disembodied voice asking all those attending to wait patiently and await their number before they would be seen.
From that moment on, it gets even more bizarre, more outrageous and more plausible in what we should all expect when we have to wait for that final moment. However, order can, and will break down when the system, no matter how chaotic it is run, even when managed by the weirdest and yet insanely loveable characters to step on stage. There are pockets of sheer brilliance that could grace the finest of surreal comedies and each one more delicious than the last.
After all who really understands the art of waiting? Not even the bureaucrats it seems. However the team behind Caustic Widows and Katy-Anne Bellis are probably closer than any other.
Ian D. Hall