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Working- musical review

Briefly entering the lives of countless Americans discussing their jobs, Working is an adaptation of Studs Terkel's book, comprised of interviews conducted in 1974, with some additions from 2007/8. Spanning a wide range of careers, and crossing class boundaries, the show depicts the words of those from factory workers to journalists. After just narrowly missing the opportunity to show before the pandemic, it was intriguing to see what this piece had to offer.

Although described as a musical, Working is probably better categorised as a song cycle. With no structured narrative, each occupation has its own section of dialogue or track, often with minimal relation to the next, besides the overall themes of the show's title. While these fast paced changes kept the piece going, there were occasionally lines and lyrics blurred, and fluidity was lost. This was particularly noticeable with the clunky (and loudly distracting) set pieces of scaffolding, which didn't seem to transport around the stage overly smoothly, nor transport the audience into the scene. It also translates into a lack of investment in each character, with some sections feeling rushed as they are over swiftly.

In his first job, Sanchez Collingwood Simpson plays a UPS driver, desperately trying to liven up his rounds with any chance he gets. Similarly, as a waitress, Sabrina Edwards thrives in a theatrical telling, through 'It's an Art', of the ways she brightens her days, and enjoys her job. On the other hand, Olga-Marie Platt describes the tough working conditions in 'Millwork', desperate to escape the never-ending hardships of making suitcases for a living. While being a truck driver, Jack Brown excellently sings 'Brother Trucker', discussing his passion for driving, along with its implications on his family life, and in 'Just a Housewife', Kate Gledhill explores the value of jobs that may go unrecognised, despite being so important. With the additions of Adrian Hau and Sam Sugarman to complete the cast, 'I Could've Been' works really well to bring the first act to a close, and show the vocals as a collective, in the heartfelt piece that explores the dreams lost once working takes over.

Switching between time periods, there isn't much consistency throughout, though this can work in the sense of each job being a separate entity in the piece. Several elements presented the change- or lack there of- in societal views on working, including gendered roles and opinions differing over generations. This is highlighted in 'Cleanin' Women', whereby the silky voice of Georgia Blessitt leads to explain how she aims to break away from the family tradition, so her daughter isn't forced to continue the line of work- a stand out performance.

While Working may not be quite the musical you were expecting, being classified as a song cycle with some revisions, it could fit. Appreciating the jobs of everyday people, and thinking about the motivation behind the work people are doing, this piece begins to articulate something that, with hope, could become something more.


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