Wed 31st Jul – Sat 10th Aug 2013


““So. Romantic or sexual relationships at work. Have I had any? Is that what you want to know?””





Sussex University Drama Society


Contractions by Mike Bartlett, is a modern satire which battles with the language and codes of conduct of the corporate business world. Fourteen meetings are presented solely between Emma and her Manager. These meetings begin with a discussion of the work contract: "any relationship, activity or act" between employees "which could be characterised as sexual or romantic" is forbidden, is non-negotiable. Nevertheless, Emma becomes deeply embroiled in such an “activity”, deeming her love life to be a private concern. The Manager considers the relationship to be a breach of contract; she considers that the relationship is entirely the company’s concern, and to the company’s detriment. The Manager as a consequence begins to probe and penetrate deep into Emma’s personal life.

While the Manager may seem to be a high-blown dystopian symbol in the vein of Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’, her palpable form makes her a unique and disturbing figure of authority. Her unbreakable professional disposition creates an engrossing battle, as the fiery Emma struggles to secure her liberty.

Contractions shifts from a naturalistic grounding into absurdist realms, whilst maintaining a firm grip on the tragic – and comic – situation in the office. This play unhinges with its humour, maintaining professional lingo at the peak of the cruelty presented. Elongated awkward silences are breathed into the distance between the Manager and Emma, allowing the audience to delve into questions: of managerial power, of employees’ rights and of the more specific role of females in the workplace; as the tension and absurdity mounts. All in all, Contractions can be regarded equally as a compelling soap opera tragedy and a powerful satire for the age of technocrats.

Admission: £7.50(£5.50) – £9.50(£7.50)

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