If I Were Me

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 08 Aug 2015

Phillip Sandford is the ultimate wallflower. His suit blends into the background and he carries a pot plant. People look right through him. Literally.

Self-consciousness can be a cruel and crippling thing, and ANTLER—the young company behind last year’s Where The White Stops—pin it down carefully. Phillip’s incapable of getting a sentence out and clueless about what to do with his hands. A silent figure watches him through binoculars. At work—he’s in advertising—colleagues ignore his suggestions. Nasi Voutsa gives a delicate display of squirming, shuffling discomfort, his toes turned in, knees knocked together.

Voutsas is the lynchpin in an otherwise bitty show that leans a little too heavily on surrealism. It throws up some gorgeous moments – office drones dancing with their desk flowers; Phillip face to face with his reflection – but the tendency is always to retreat into comedy. Daniel Foxsmith plays his ball-swinging boss, spouting motivational pyschobabble, but lugging his insecurities around in a wheelie-case. Daniela Pasquini is the co-worker managing to keep her own tics hidden.

However, it’s slyer than it seems and, slowly, a politics emerges. This is a show that wants the meek to inherit the earth, but worries that, in doing so, they’ll become alpha by proxy. You root for Phillip as he embraces his inner-gawk, rocking out to Bruce Springsteen, but at what point does newfound confidence turn into cocksurety? Before long, an army of Phillips swarm the stage and he looks like a dominant strain: yet another bloke in a suit, thinning slightly on top, calling the shots.