"Work eat sleep eat work"
by Coco Hall on 03/08/12

Does anyone really ever want to go to work? But once we're there, though we might hate it, we're terrified of losing that mind-numbing employ which will eventually see us into our grave. Philip Larkin in his poem, 'Toads', sums up this paradox:
'Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?'

'Mann at Work', a new one man show written and performed by Simon Capes has echoes of this sentiment. His character, Jeffrey Mann is on the verge of a promotion in a job he doesn't enjoy and isn't really that good at. He wants to do something of value. He wants to live the dream. But Jeffrey isn't really sure what the dream is.

Jeffrey is one of those people we all know (and/or possibly are), drifting from one temp job to another, or getting by (just about) on the dole, then finally landing the big job with good money, which we/they then get stuck in.

The play certainly has moments in it that anyone who has ever worked will empathise with; my favourite being the 5 top excuses for being late to work, most of which I have used.

The play is basically a series of anecdotes and stories about work, told to us by grey-suited, affable chap and everyman Jeffrey Mann (played affably by Simon Capes), which has a surprisingly upbeat, positive ending.

Some moments in the show could do with a little editing - the work-eat-sleep-eat-work-turn-into-a-robot section is very funny but could have been a tad shorter, and I would like to have got more of a sense of Jeffrey's life out of work. Is this man as shambolic in his personal life as he is at work? Or is this saying that Jeffrey is defined by work, as many people seem to become.

There are some very funny stories in this gently humorous play, which anyone who has ever worked will be able to empathise with, and be nodding 'yes, I've done that'. His impression of his robotic boss Linda had audience members hooting, as did the 'Sheriff of Arrogant Town' call centre manager anecdote.

To quote another Northern bard, Morrissey: 'I was looking for a job and then I found a job. And Heaven knows I'm miserable now.' Though Jeffrey, bless him, isn't the sort of bloke to get all that miserable.

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