EFR - Reviews of N.S.F.W. Not Safe For Work

N.S.F.W. Not Safe For Work

Sun 10th – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Georgina Wilson

at 09:17 on 19th Aug 2014

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The world of the media is a brutal one. No one knows this better than Sam (Hamish Forbes), a twenty-something romantic holding on by his fingertips to a job in the ferocious maelstrom of PR which is at the eye of lads magazine, Doghouse.

Hamish Forbes plays the bewildered young graduate who accidentally chooses an underage candidate to be plastered all over the front pages of Doghouse as the winner of a topless competition. His distress – “I think I might be a paedophile” – begins at quasi-slapstick level as he writhes on the floor moaning so loudly we can barely hear other cast members speak. Later on in the play his acting improves to a more genuine level as his anxieties link up to the character’s back story about his hopelessly flawed and idealistic relationship with his girlfriend.

Office boss of Doghouse, Aiden (Christian Bevan) similarly improves as the play goes on. Striding confidently around the stage in an open-collared white shirt and immaculate suit, he portrays the perfect stereotype of the doggedly single-minded editor-in-chief.

In contrast, Christopher Evans creates a satisfying representation of the wretched father figures of the fourteen year old newly-made model. Both men are essentially two dimensional ; Mr Bradshaw is no more taken in by Aiden’s assurances of his sympathy than we are. But the flatness of characters doesn’t stop them being interesting and, if anything, makes the circumstances played out more representative of numerous other media scandals that have taken place in real life.

More rounded as a character is office worker Charlotte (Lara McIvor). Who clearly struggles with her boss’s actions even whilst she facilitates them and has unspecified sexual relations with Aiden as well. Young middle class Rupert (Rory McIvor) is successfully an irritating character. His appearance in the second half of the play which takes place in a starkly contrasting female-dominated office of women’s magazine Electra seems entirely pointless. Mute and skirted, Rupert risks turning the idea that women could be in control into the scenario of a wacky comedy.

Rupert flourishes best in the first half of the play with many humorous one-liners that generate waves of chuckles among the audience. The script is well-written, apart from the odd moment which apparently calls for life-like if theatrically useless arguments where characters speak over one another.

This aside, Not Safe For Work succeeds in expounding hotly relevant topics and significant debates about media scandals and gender hierarchies in the work place whilst maintaining a light-hearted and very watchable atmosphere.

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Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 10:52 on 19th Aug 2014

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N.S.F.W. explores the trails and tribulations of working in the magazine industry. We are given a sneaky peek into the offices of a lads’ mag and a glossy women’s publication, and see exactly what happens when things go wrong. An array of heavily stereotyped characters are presented to us. They’ve got them all; the ruthless boss, the female Oxford graduate who is sleeping with him, the posh kid who has all the contacts and the nervous newbie.

The script, although clichéd in parts, is funny and enjoyable. The main plot line, the discovery that Doghouse has inadvertently published topless pictures of a fourteen-year-old girl, provides the right mixture of comedy and food for thought. The first half explores the ramifications of this enormous cock-up for the staff at Doghouse. In a particularly uncomfortable scene, we see Aiden (Christian Bevan) the Editor in Chief persuade the angry father, Mr Bradshaw, (Christopher Evans) not press charges. In the second half we see how the event has affected coffee-fetcher Sam (Hamish Forbes) as he is interviewed by crazy, menopausal Miranda (Lara McIvor) for a job at Electra.

It is scenes such as this one that really highlight how firmly these characters are pigeon-holed into their roles. Mr Bradshaw is depicted as an uneducated Northerner, whose outrage at the indecent exposure of his daughter is easily assuaged by a large pay off. Rupert is the archetypal public-schooled idiot, and has a definite hint of JP from Fresh Meat about him. This characterisation is superficially amusing but unfortunately the show is not long enough to properly explore or look behind these stock characters.

As a means of poking fun at the media industry this play certainly does its job. Some parts, such as the exercise of finding and pointing out the flaws on celebrities’ bodies as a test in a job interview are probably closer to the truth than we would like to believe. The staging and the music help the play to be relevant and appealing to an audience of young adults, and the entire cast do a good job of portraying their parts. Rory McIvor and Hamish Forbes are particularly strong, and consistently entertaining.

The show is an upbeat and easy watch, which is mildly satirical but doesn’t come across as moralistic. It does, however, do an excellent job of sending up the stock characters in the magazine industry in a light hearted way, making for a thoroughly entertaining afternoon.

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