Brilliant Jerks at Southwark Playhouse
Brilliant Jerks is a fast-paced three-hander about the rise of a taxi company clearly inspired by Uber, exploring primarily the sort of toxic work environment that is potentially created in a young start-up entirely focused on growth and finances. Touching on a variety of urgent themes relating to modern-day work culture, and bringing a good amount of humour to the mix, the play is perfectly engaging, although spread too thin, which gives it a broad rather than deep focus.
The roughly 90-minute plot follows three characters: the company’s CEO, Tyler (Shubham Saraf) is passionate about his company and leads it through its monumental growth, but ultimately fails to take responsibility for the toxic work culture occurring under his watch. Coder Sean (Sean Delaney) is a homosexual who gets close with his line manager, which initially helps him rise through the ranks ahead of his more capable co-worker. Taxi driver Mia (Kiran Sonia Sawar) is a bright young woman with a troubled past who is trying to stay afloat.
The narrative strands all work fine; Tyler’s plot is perhaps the most fundamental, although Mia’s plucks the most heartstrings, but in all three cases there just isn’t enough time to develop the characters properly. Yes, the audience follows them through key moments but, ultimately, a lot is left unsaid, and more could be done. This is a pity since there is potential in the story, and the lines are delivered with great sensitivity by all three performers.
Director Katie-Ann McDonough’s production is comparatively subtle, featuring Hazel Low’s minimalist set with a table and some chairs. The lighting by Rachel Sampley is enjoyably atmospheric. There is always a lot of movement on stage and clever differences in the general soundscape and demeanour of the characters help to highlight the differences in the three storylines.
Brilliant Jerks does a number of things right and, above all, has the potential to be a good play. With a powerful idea and some strongly executed moments, it’s perfectly enjoyable all round and well worth a watch.
Photo: Nick Rutter
Brilliant Jerks is at Southwark Playhouse from 1st March until 25th March 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.