The Process at the Bunker
The Process isn’t as long as it sounds. In fact, at 95 minutes, it is quite short. It’s also not as boring. With malevolent bureaucracy and the rise of alt-right politics as its themes, how could it be? What makes it most interesting is that some parts are told entirely in BSL while others are in spoken English. This is a unique design, meaning D/deaf and non-deaf people will understand different parts of the story. It is accessible to everyone.
The focus is Jo (Jean St Clair), a deaf businesswoman. She has created an app to measure a person’s worth. This app becomes more developed than its creator intended, taking into account not just finances, but also every other aspect of its users’ lives. The world does not seem so dystopian, as it parallels ours. The only indication of dystopia is the set: a murky grey prison.
Known for their improvisational elements, BAZ Productions’ fourth work moves away from this, as it is constantly hindered by Sarah Bedi’s writing. It felt like there were parts missing, jumping from A to C. Arguments escalated out of calm conversations, and people were told what to feel instead of actually feeling. Despite it being close to reality, it required a lot of suspension of disbelief, and not just when Jo’s son (William Grint) could have been jailed for 18 months over a bloodied nose. This side story was a piece from a different puzzle, not fitting into the main story, but stealing just as much time. It felt like a broken Black Mirror episode, trying to force shards of subplots together, whereas Black Mirror works because of the cohesion of a single story.
Jo’s motivations were unclear throughout. Why would this non-wealthy woman originally create the app? The characters were one-dimensional tropes, but the actors tried to bring them to life. Some standout performances were the interpreter who couldn’t speak for himself, Ralph Bogard the exuberant lawyer, George Eggay, who kept the audience laughing, and his believably ignorant wife, Catherine Bailey. However, it was unbelievable just how unenlightened people appeared to be in this world. A few small moments of ignorance were highlighted by Jo telling someone to look at her, not the interpreter, and rearranging on the staircase to allow Jo to see everyone, so people openly mocking the deaf seemed like overkill.
At the end, we are left without a message. Maybe the question the audience is meant to ponder is: how does Jo losing her company due to her son’s wrongdoing relate to the main story? With a new year comes a new way of storytelling. Hopefully the trend will continue, and plays will become more accessible, open to every member of the public. The Process forms the groundwork, and hopefully better-written projects will take note. For now, no one has an excuse to not see this performance.
Photos: Paul Biver
The Process is at the Bunker from 11th January until 1st February 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.