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This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/saxon-court-southwark-playhouse-london/

It is the time of the year for the office Christmas party and Saxon Court, a small financial recruitment agency, is having a rough time. The occupy movement is protesting outside the office, the toilet is blocked and the economy is dire. The staff is locked in to keep the protesters out and Donna Saxon has a decision to make as to whom to fire.
 
There is a host of caricatures in the office: a blonde receptionist from Essex, Tash, who just came back from a botched breast augmentation; Noel, a young man who just dropped out of university and is on probation; Joey, a seasoned salesman who is struggling with his marriage and seeking a raise. Saxon Court plays out as a comedy drama and teeters between the two. The tragicomedy scenario threatens to blossom into something profound but it never happens. Various monologues cover the right subject matter but don’t offer anything insightful. At one point, Donna tells the story of her first day of work and it turns into a pointless anecdote lacking any dramatic purpose.
 
But as the professional début of writer Daniel Andersen there are some commendable elements. The women are strong and Debra Baker’s Donna is commanding though almost cliche in her enforced dominance and her politically incorrect rant on students, immigrants and benefit scroungers. The best character is the down to earth Nat, played by Sophie Ellerby, who has been working hard to get some new business as best she can. She contributes towards an ambiguous ending that attempts to suggest something deeper. Shame it lacks any clue to make the ambiguity valid.
 
It is a very well cast group, as the caricatures practically paint themselves. Alice Franklin as Tash is suitably glamorous in an Essex kind of way and John Pickard is the office geezer Joey. The two sided seating produces a claustrophobia in the office party lockin but this again is underdeveloped.
 
All the elements are present for an interesting and dramatic study in small business and women in the workplace. It requires a little more thoughtfulness and insight to combine all the elements and provide more sympathetic characters. As it stands, it is an uneventful office Christmas party that is forgotten the next day.

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