Reasonably Theatrical
Wilkin Group @ the Square
Until 09 Mar 2018

Review by Paige Mulholland

At 6:45pm on a Thursday, the first thing you want to do after a hard day’s work is… go back to work, right? No? This quirky comedy might change your mind.

Borrowing from popular television show “The Office” in both setting and humour, “A Paper Tale: The Adelaide Office Live” follows the story of the struggling Adelaide branch of pape manufacturing juggernaut Papercorp, its small team of misfits, and its new intake of more than 25 interns and potential staff members – the audience.

Upon entering the office building, the “interns” are given a nametag ushered into the lift by a grumpy HR rep in high-vis, and brought into the breakroom for light refreshments (all served in coffee cups, of course – what’s the fun of drinking wine at work if you can’t pretend it’s coffee?). Once the “induction” starts, you experience the gamut of office drama – an office romance (or several), an entirely confusing “inspirational speech” from the boss, favouritism, and, of course, office pranks. Although the show borrows heavily from other workplace comedies and isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel when it comes to jokes, the clear consensus from the audience was that the show was relatable and funny, so maybe the wheel didn’t need to be reinvented in the first place.

“A Paper Tale: The Adelaide Office” strikes the perfect, and rare, balance between immersive theatre and forced participation – for those who wanted to lead office stretches and take part in watercooler small talk, there was plenty on offer, but it was easy to escape if audience participation sounds about as fun as working in a paper company. That’s not to say that the show didn’t fall into some of the standard trappings of site-specific theatre – sightlines were sometimes problematic (many members of the audience didn’t see the receptionist until she’d been “onstage” for quite some time) and, particularly before the audience were lead into the conference room, there were some issues with crowding, but overall the show was well-thought out and took advantage of the resources of the location without getting bogged up in the difficulties.

The ensemble were all well-rehearsed and easy to watch, and built excellent chemistry with each other – so much so that it would have been nice to have fewer monologues and more character interaction during the short 50-minute show.

This show was exactly what Adelaide Fringe needs – low-maintenance, creative, local content, turning everyday spaces into something vibrant and fun. Short, sharp and perhaps a little rough around the edges, but a great show to bring the workmates to – just, maybe not your grumpy HR rep.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)