Arts Review: Job Seekers Anonymous

Sh!t Theatre, The Arches Behaviour Festival

JSA (Job Seekers Anonymous).

Job Seekers Anonymous was Sh!t Theatre’s contribution to the Arches Behaviour Festival, covering the topic of unemployment, with performers and experts Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit, who served as our provocative guides through the world of British unemployment.

The audience were unsure what to expect as the performance started, with Mothersole and Biscuit campily marching into the space as caricatures of themselves. For a brief moment it looked as if the whole performance was going to gaily dance around its subject matter (the clownish costumes of face paint and newspapers fashioned into clothing that were being sported didn’t help this initial impression) but thankfully, it took a different turn as Mothersole and Biscuit were able to temper their performance’s more eccentric tendencies with some more down to earth moments of honest to goodness humanity – with frequent and often quite personal references to the performer’s own experiences being one of the strongest points.

The humour in general was the bleak kind expected of a dark comedy, with disappointment, outrage and pessimism being the point. Of course, you wouldn’t know this if you were to look at photos of the performance or if you simply listened to one of the many cheerful songs interspersed throughout. The vibrant images and general upbeat and humorous tone served as an interesting contrast to the bleak content that was actually being expressed. That appeared to be the show’s main point: a major disappointment disguised as a joke, punctuated with a wink, followed by a song and dance ,with some mischievous audience participation thrown in for good measure.

So whilst I was initially nonplussed I must say that Sh!t Theatre managed to win me over through force of personality and simple charm – it also helps that they weren’t afraid to play things down, if a metaphor was at work they were sure to point it out and a touch of frankness in a performance can go a long way.

[Andrew Scade]

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