Rob Young’s Crush
Directed by Matthew Joseph Rawlings
27th May, 2017
The fragile eco-system of an office is upset when Laura, a temp-worker, joins the team, challenging the throne of queen-bee Celia and stealing the attentions of her devotee, the obsessive Johnny. Crush is a play where eroticism is less an undertone than a subject of frank, consistently funny conversation.
Rob Young takes the ‘like-your-office-but-funnier’ style of comedy, and runs with it as far as he can. On the whole this works, and Crush is, in short, hilarious. There is, however, therein a slight identity crisis – sophisticated witticisms and marvellous character comedy sits side-by-side with cruder, obvious gags. Nonetheless, actors would often have to wait a moment for the laughter to die down before the next line could be heard. It is an undeniable crowd-pleaser.
The production makes great use of the intimate space of Burdall’s Yard. The office set is instantly familiar, grounding the gossip and rivalries of Crush exceedingly well. The inclusive draw of inner thought comes across perfectly, presenting a believable tableau of office machination.
Sami Edris is wonderfully endearing as Johnny, positively sweating anxious charm. His tragic fawning after Celia, undaunted even in the face of abject rejection, makes Crush entertaining from the get-go. Shaunagh Shannon portrays a poised, perfect bitch in Celia, yet gives enough nuance to avoid caricature. Though the character of Laura, the provocative temp, lacks motivation, Zoe Takel makes her exude sex appeal, and provides a vindictive, satisfying foil to Celia. Sexual pull and personal distaste is maintained and enjoyed throughout by all three actors.
The climax, though genuinely impressive and one of Crush’s best moments, feels unearned by a plot which acts mostly as a vehicle for comedy. Similarly, attempts at more serious motifs feel mostly out of place. Still, Crush succeeds admirably, and deservedly, on the strength and delivery of its comedy, making for a hilarious trip to the theatre.
By Joshua Lambert