Empty in Angel by James Woolf
What is it? Empty in Angel is a one woman show written by James Woolf that looks at employment rights in the gig economy.
What is it all about?
Wottsie is a bicycle courier in London fighting for employment rights after the death of a van courier who was fined £150 for cancelling a shift to go to a doctor’s appointment. Based on a true story, this play uses music and multi-rolling to varying degrees of success to tell this story.
How did it make me feel?
Empty in Angel is incredibly exciting in subject matter. Even living in a woke, London, liberal bubble the rights of gig economy workers are rarely discussed. Wottsie, who is based on real push bike courier Max Dewhurst, educates the audience on these issues in this informative one woman show. Unfortunately, informative is all it is. James Woolf’s writing is messy and hard to engage with. It swings wildly between confusing Shakespeare references, cringe-inducing raps and overdone lyrical monologues. Darcy Willison does her absolute best to inject some warmth and grounding in to this clinical and chaotic script and achieves real moments of likability. I would like to see her in more as she is clearly a skilled actor, unfortunately the amount she is being asked to carry on stage is a mammoth task for anyone and her performance falls down on some weak multi-rolling. The direction, from Ursula Campbell, seemed to follow suit with the writing. Campbell does make some excellent choices with the music and visuals in the opening scene, but from there seems to have Willison taking on and off her bag, helmet and jacket almost constantly throughout the first two thirds of the play. Willison also doesn’t feel fully supported throughout her admirable one woman performance, sometimes filled with a manic, grasping energy that I’m sure could have been remedied in rehearsals.
All in all, this play is saved by it’s subject matter. Worker’s rights are interesting enough to keep you engaged for the full hour. However, had the same amount of time explaining how important it is been spent on the rest of the piece it would have been a completely different experience for the audience.
Empty in Angel is playing at The White Bear Theatre Kennington until the 30th November 2019.
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