Failure Studies, Camden Fringe, stage review: ‘Genuine insight and endearingly zany dialogue’

The three-person show is ‘delightful’. Photograph: Precarious Theatre

George is a chicken, because every day when he arrives at work, his boss Marc feeds him crumbs that reduce him to a squawking wreck.

Marc seems to employ him as an intern at the journal Failure Studies for no other reason than to perform the daily ritual of lording it over his underling.

Editorial assistant ‘Babe’ fares little better.

In short – the typical abusive workplace, humming along to the duplicitous language of staff motivation.

Precarious Theatre’s play Failure Studies, on for a brief run as part of the Camden Fringe, offers a quirky take on society’s equation of success with professional achievement and employment with power. We’re constantly enjoined to try harder, to learn from our failures, but the bar is always just out of reach.

The pandemic has prompted much reflection on the human condition, as manifest in our relations with our bosses, and not a few of us have taken a pretty jaundiced view of what we have discovered.

Drawing liberally on theatre-of-the-absurd tropes, this delightful three-person-show, written by Marco Biasioli and directed by Liam Grogan, inverts the management studies classic of ‘success’ scholarship, uncovering the dark underside of ‘professional development’.

Though the drama loses its way a bit toward the end with obscure symbolism and monologues that do little more than deflate narrative tension, the play is definitely worth a look for its genuine insight, for its endearingly zany dialogue, and for an impressively energetic performance by Luke Richards as the put-upon George.

Failure Studies runs until 17 August at Etcetera Theatre, 265 Camden High Street, NW1 7BU.

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