If you believe the stigma of mental health is slowly disappearing, then Fit for Work will question your perception of this topical subject and how it is perceived in the workplace.
even those who seem sane might have a lot more going on underneath the surface than you think
Written and directed by Andrew Woodward, the story begins with Josh (Warren Saunders) and Phoebe (Kate McGann), both working for Atlantis Tours and preparing interviews for the new tour guide position. The topic of conversation quickly centres around Peter Simpson (Murray Hecht) an applicant who, after being forced off benefits, has developed mental health issues. In the interview room Josh and Phoebe try to conceal their preconceptions of Peter but in doing so become rather condescending. We see patronizing Phoebe (much to Josh’s dismay) help Peter throughout the interview; although it quickly becomes clear that this is just to save her own conscience from being worried about pushing Peter over the edge. After using Peter for menial and degrading jobs, it seems that Phoebe and Josh aren’t at all who they first appear to be and we quickly witness behaviour that would certainly not be considered ‘sane’ in any workplace.
It’s a dark comedy that starts off light-hearted with much entertainment derived from the well-established relationship between Josh and Phoebe. Full of banter, their characters really do complement each other. Saunders’ portrayal of witty Josh was natural and sustained throughout the play. McGann created a domineering Phoebe, which in some scenes seemed almost too unnatural, with her performance too big for such a small and intimate venue – her character is definitely suited for a bigger stage. Hecht found some contrasting bright moments in his depressed character, but playing someone with mental health issues is often tricky to do, and unfortunately, he fell into the trap of being stereotypical at times.
Woodward has found a good concept for a play that started off with an engaging first half where characters and story were established through slightly amusing dialogue. However, the second half unraveled too quickly without any particular build up to an odd finale, almost as if there was a scene missing. I particularly wanted to see Peter’s character go through more of a transformation, as the characters around him grew madder he stayed the same, but the play ended before this could happen.
Mental health issues were explored with great care and although the play lacked punch and the ending disappointing, Fit for Work did successfully demonstrate that even those who seem sane might have a lot more going on underneath the surface than you think.