The Rejects

Aug 11 2023 | By More

★★★★☆      Intelligently comic

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39): Sun 6 – Sat 26 Aug 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is huge promise in both the writing and the performing of The Rejects, from Shark Bait Theatre and New Celts at theSpace on the Mile.

Five young people in various states of desperation who have been interviewed for a dead-end job repair to the pub where frustrations and secrets emerge, in Jess Ferrier’s play.

The subject matter is not wildly original, while the set-up is artificial at best, unbelievable at worst. Ferrier’s theatrical intelligence is demonstrated by being one step ahead of us in stressing this artificiality.

Lex Joyce, Jess Ferrier, Robyn Reilly, Isla Campbell and Abi Price in The Rejects. Pic: Shark Bait Theatre

The characters are only identified by name badges numbered 1-5, while we are only given sufficient backstory to set up and simultaneously undermine stereotypes. The script is constantly funny, with the jokes arising naturally and never seeming laboured.

Ferrier herself plays Two, a crystal-toting self-entitlement junkie with a ludicrously high level of self-belief, with considerable comic flair.

There is comedy in all of the characters, as well as some pathos; Robyn Reilly’s One is already regretting her life choices while Lex Joyce’s Four clearly wishes he had been around at the height of Thatcherism.

considerable elegance

Particularly strong performances come from Abi Price as Three, deliberately self-sabotaging as a result of being underestimated, and Isla Campbell’s Five, who is almost at the end of her tether, but has a great idea for a screenplay. Shame it has already been made by somebody else.

The question of who will get the job is another highly artificial situation, but the script handles it with considerable elegance, something that is also true of the dividing up into discrete sections and conversations without ever seeming forced.

Ian Dunn’s direction helps greatly with this, with the pace being kept high while still giving the comedy room to move. Some of the set-pieces – such as the staging of the pub quiz – are a joy.

There are points being made here about workers’ rights, the plight of young people – and indeed the whole structure of society – but they are made as part of a breathlessly comic and cleverly put together play.

Running time: One hour and 10 minutes (no interval)
theSpace on the Mile, 80 High St, EH1 1TH (Venue 39)
Sunday 6 – Saturday 26 August 2023 (even dates only)
Even dates only at 3.35 pm
Tickets and details: Book here.

Shark Bait Theatre links

Company Facebook: @sharkbaittheatre

Instagram: @sharkbaittheatre

Twitter: @SharkBaitThtr



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