Saxon Court takes place over the course of one day in the office of a recruitment company and it’s not a good day for money-driven boss Donna. These recruiters are at the bottom of the food chain – a recruitment company recruiting financial recruiters – and at Christmas in 2011 their food has run out.
The recruitment industry is a suitable subject for send-up. There are parts of the play that do this well: an aggressive cold-call to a potential candidate by top performer Joey (John Pickard) is true to life. On the other hand, other moments are unrealistic – the nervous new joiner Noel (Scott Hazell) is forced by his co-workers to tell a candidate that he needs to lose weight to get the job; the receptionist (Alice Franklin) and recruiter Nat (Sophie Ellerby) both have a poor telephone manner when speaking to clients. The downfall of the company is not due to the lack of jobs on the market but the incompetency of the staff. Donna is portrayed by Debra Baker as a ruthless tyrant focussed on the profitability of her company so it’s puzzling that she has surrounded herself with these idiots. She is having a very bad day but you can’t feel sorry for someone who has brought it on herself.
Director Melanie Spencer’s production is energetic and brings together strong acting performances. The interactions between colleagues are well played out. The most nuanced character is Mervyn, an ineffectual employee from the other branch, played sympathetically by Adam Brown. Daniel Andersen’s debut play has some funny moments but the production is let down at times by some childish, repetitive jokes. Some references are made to protesters camping outside St Paul’s but this is only tackled by a rather totalitarian diatribe from Donna. The play is easy to watch but is more like a soap-opera than the “razor sharp satire” that it’s described as in its marketing material. Daniel Anderson’s debut provides some insight into the seedy, superficial side of the City and the problems of a failing business but only scratches the surface. That said, if you expect Eastenders and not Wolf of Wall Street, you will have an enjoyable evening.