The Pulverised by Alexandra Badea at York’s Theatre Royal
The presentation of continental European drama on the British stage has become too rare for comfort in recent times, so the appearance at York’s Theatre Royal of The Pulverised by the Romanian-French writer Alexandra Badea is to be warmly welcomed. The play which won the French Grand Prix de la littérature dramatique in 2013 is powerful and engaging. As a sardonic commentary on how business in a globalised world “pulverises” humanity, it combines pathos – the futile attempts of the protagonists to escape from the regimentation of their lives – with humour – the platitudes of their everyday existence and the caricatural way in which organisations communicate their demands.
The production by Andy Salva is first-rate. The four actors, representing employees on different levels of the organisational hierarchy in different countries, lie inertly on the stage until, in front of videoed images of their work environment, they have to leap into action, revealing their respective plights in rapid-firing monologues. That the audience is gripped by the language not only of the almost poetic yearnings for freedom but also of the clichés of business and IT jargon says much for the translation of Lucy Phelps. Rebecca Boey, Richard Corgan and Kate Miles all offered highly convincing portrayals of the employees, but I would pick out for particular praise Solomon Israel. As the Call Centre Team Leader in Dakar, he gave a virtuoso performance in a dapper “fake Versace suit”, combining lithe bodily movements with ingratiating facial expressions and smooth patter.