Pillbox Theatre’s debut play Conscientious recounts a young professional’s experience of life in the office and the drama’s that come with it. Largely set in her workplace, this one-woman show provides a moving account of her experience of office bullying and her struggle to survive.
Rebekah (Rachel Ashwanden) is a fresh-faced and motivated university graduate on an office grad scheme whose all-time hero is her great grandfather, a conscientious objector in WWI. The play relates the bravery of conscientious objectors in WW1 to the difficulty of standing up for our principles in the modern day world. As the writer’s foreword says ‘it’s a play which asks more questions than it answers’ and leaves you questioning the use of personal values in daily life.
Rachel Ashwanden is impressive and, although alone, keeps the audience engaged throughout. Light relief is provided by candid jokes and musical interludes which break the play up into episodes. Although the music is sometimes a little jolted when replayed, it gives some useful time for reflection after particularly dramatic moments.
The simple yet versatile set is used to great effect; it is constantly helping to convey and illustrate the protagonist’s emotions. Seeing someone appear so downtrodden on stage moves the audience, especially in such a relatable situation.
Although the play is generally well executed, the actress’s image, especially her make-up, is somewhat puzzling. Given that it’s not addressed in any way, it can at times distract from the story she is recounting.
Conscientious is overall a very thought-provoking and moving production. Having learnt about the plight of conscientious objectors at school, it is interesting for an audience to see these experiences related to the present day.
A potential alternative to a wild night out, Conscientious, though not the lightest of plays, will certainly spark a good discussion afterwards.
Conscientious is now on tour until early December. For dates see: http://conscientioustheatre.wordpress.com/tour-dates/