Coming clean: Office workers challenged to be on song in thought-provoking comedy - Indian Ink Theatre Company

Coming clean: Office workers challenged to be on song in thought-provoking comedy

By: Mike Mather (Waikato Time)Zara, in a yellow blazer and red scarf, pleads with an anxious-looking Neil, who runs his fingers through his hair.

Office cleaners sit at the bottom of the pack when it comes to workplace hierarchy, yet it would be an understatement to say they are utterly vital.

Dirty Work, the latest production by the acclaimed Indian Ink theatre company, champions the role of those who hoover the crumbs off the floor, wipe down the desks, and scrub out the toilets.

The show, which gets a three-night season at Hamilton’s Clarence Street Theatre later this month, is the eleventh work created by co-writers and Indian Ink co-founders Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis.

As with numerous comedies – and true to all of Indian Ink’s repertoire – Dirty Work features some powerful social commentary: Between the laughs, audiences may find themselves considering how they value their time, how they value each other, and how they can find joy in the endless toil of work.

The story takes place in an office in which the computers are on the blink and the big boss in India is demanding the impossible. A hapless middle manager, his unhelpful assistant and their chorus of office workers are making a mess of things – which isn’t good news for the cleaner.

There is a unique twist to each performance in that as the production tours the country each set of shows features a locally acquired choir – and for the Hamilton shows it will be Cambridge’s Mosaic Choir who will be harmonising in what may otherwise be an unharmonious workplace.

Choir Members stand singing while holding music folders of sheet music.The choir have been given a set of songs to rehearse – but not the script. All they know is that they’re cubicle-bound office workers taking direction from “the boss“ and they experience the unfolding of the story at the same time as the audience.

Rajan and Lewis took inspiration from a 1942 essay by journalist and Albert Camus titled The Myth of Sisyphus, which explored the philosophy of the absurd.

Camus compared the absurdity of man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again.

Indian Ink would likely need little introduction for anyone even vaguely acquainted with theatre in New Zealand.

Now in its 27th year, the company has extensively toured Aotearoa and the world staging highly inventive productions that blend Western theatrical traditions with Eastern flavours. The company’s work is regularly lauded for its use of live music, humour, pathos and great storytelling.