Workshy is a performance art piece by Katy Baird, a lady more experienced in customer service roles than theatrical ones. Despite this rather steep career change, you could be forgiven in taking Baird to be a seasoned professional – her command of the stage and her unashamed approach to storytelling could rival several large names, and her first-hand experience of the issues she addresses gives the whole piece an authentic air.

Baird will make you laugh, force you to think and shock you unexpectedly

As with all performance art, what an audience takes away will be subjective; resonating different emotional chords in its individual interpretations. As an overview, it explores just what work constitutes in today’s culture, poking a politically-driven satirical finger at class differences in the workplace. Leading us through first-hand accounts of everything from microwaving mashed potatoes at Wetherspoons to fetish-work on a webcam, the production has a refreshing honesty. At the end of the day, a job exists to earn money, but with it comes a unique set of conditions: camaraderie, loyalty – even danger, depending on the role. Quite how these conditions influence us will inevitably be a significant consequence of employment in a capitalist society, and during the piece I was forced to challenge quite how integral employment affects other (apparently unrelated) social values at the same time.

It is a great skill to be able to hold an audience single-handedly, and Baird succeeds beyond expectation. Using a variety of art forms to make her point, the Summerhall venue quickly becomes a safe space for open dialogue about the subjects mentioned. You even get fed.

Going above and beyond what is traditionally considered taboo in modern society, Baird will make you laugh, force you to think and shock you unexpectedly. And if this performance is anything to go by, we may well have found Katy Baird’s next employment sector: the arts. Thank goodness it isn’t food hygiene

Reviews by Matthew Sedman

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

This is a show about work. Some people work to make money. Some people work to feel fulfilled. Some people don't work at all. For the last two decades, Katy has been on the front line of the customer service industry. From getting you high to super sizing your whopper meal, she has done everything she can to make you happy. Looking through the lens of labour, Workshy is a powerful and honest portrayal of the relationship between class and aspiration.

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