PPP Review: Joke

Johnny McKnight has always tackled issues in his writing, often sugaring the pill with campy humour and superb wordplay. But this new play for A Play, A Pie and a Pint is next level stuff, because it’s raw, honest, and totally unflinching. It’s still hilarious, but it packs a punch, quite unlike anything else he’s done so far. And it’s absolutely devastating.

Andy (Michael Guest) is the simpering posh kid made manager of Pennington Textiles. He’s ‘woke’, he’s ‘with the kids’, he’s down with inclusivity. He’s even read Michelle Obama’s book. So when he calls in zero hours contracted manual labourer Jordan (Ewan Miller) over a racially offensive joke and threatens him with a sacking, fair’s fair, right?

Except… Jordan isn’t the originator of the joke, it’s closer to home than that, and Lorraine (Laura Lovemore) Jordan’s heavily pregnant, outspoken black girlfriend, has a few choice words for the privileged, try-too-hard boss.

What’s so wonderful about the play is the drip- feeding of information. It all unravels like a shaggy dog story, albeit one that takes in the nuances of white privilege, snobbery, and unconscious bias along the way. It’s delivered so wonderfully by the incredible young cast of three under Jemima Levick’s pacy direction that it feels like eavesdropping on a real workspace dispute.

Every punchline hurts, but you suspect another spin would be welcome. Words have weight, and this is a hefty, complex play which really resonates. A real knock-out.

At Oran Mor until Saturday, September 25th.

http://www.playpiepint.com

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