C venue, Edinburgh
August, 2002

*** Sharp writing, but too sharp sentiments

Vanessa Badham's play deals with domestic role-reversal in terms of corporate labour-speak, but its attacks are too blatant to work.

When Owen becomes downsized out of job in human resources, his partner Helene draws up a contract of employment: basically, if she's to keep paying the mortgage solo, he's to become a downtrodden domestic skivvy. Matters begin with standard "house-husband" comedy, as Helene plays the oppressive boss, then escalate into battle of the sexes before a ludicrously black climax.

Young Australian playwright Badham has a keen voice as a writer, but is perhaps too eager to make her political points. She doesn't have a big enough management-jargon vocabulary to pin down the capitalist evils which are her main target, and so things veer into misogyny and misandry. The young actors can't quite carry the material either: "Helene" tends to overact for a studio space, and "Owen" simply isn't really up to the mark. Overall, then, promising but hasn't fully realised its potential yet.

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