A man is desperate for a job. Answering an online advert, he is surprised to discover that the interview will be carried out via video – now. This, despite him having no idea about what the job actually entails; the other person (who, because he’s wearing headphones, we never hear) repeatedly ignores the question or changes the subject. Instead, the man’s asked to talk about himself and, in the course of the following 50 minutes, we’re given an objective lesson in how “tell not show” is seldom the greatest approach to theatre.
Constantly focused on the MacBook in front of him rather than gazing anywhere in the direction of the audience, it’s difficult to emotionally connect with either the man or the world he inhabits.
Written, directed and performed by Yuuya Ishizone, there’s no doubt his genuine commitment to exploring the modern world, along with a writerly skill in slowly peeling away the layers of one man's personal history in a way that’s understandable and intriguing. There’s some dry humour too in his appropriation of those classic – and justifiably feared – job interview standards; not least about what the man see as his main strengths and weaknesses.
Certainly we learn much about this man: that he's 38; that his ambitious British wife is preparing to divorce him after just five years’ marriage. We’re left in absolutely no doubt about his determination to get his family – or at least his young son – back, but his problematic relationship with his fashion-designer mother – or is it is wife – suggests that he’s not actually the most reliable of narrators; the conflating of the man with his own father adds to the confusion.
“Sorry, I talk too much,” the man says at the point when he begins to ask more forcefully for more details about the job he's supposedly being interviewed for. But little is forthcoming; it is a "complex" job, he is told, entailing various tasks, requiring him to commit 24/7, every day of the year with no time off for a holiday. And it’s a job that he hasn't recognised; a description which – if nothing else – suggests that what we’ve been watching up to now hasn’t been what it seems.
As a writer, Ishizone is not one to miss out on current Western cultural references, be they Benedict Cumberbatch or US sitcom The Big Bang Theory. As an actor, his emotional range is also very good, although his accent can sometimes confuse. Overall, though, there remains the problem that, constantly focused on the MacBook in front of him rather than gazing anywhere in the direction of the audience, it’s difficult to emotionally connect with either the man or the world he inhabits. There’s a very thick fourth wall between him and his audience.