views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Global Mega Inc
Etcetera Theatre
17th April 2015


Cliff Chapman, Steve Jordan, Ellen Gallagher, Emma Stirling and Adam Joselyn

Photography provided by Bat Bat Productions

As the saying goes, you don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps. Global Mega Inc is a big business with lots of subsidiaries doing lots of things. If this new sketch show by Steve Jordan, Ellen Gallagher, Adam Joselyn and Graeme Hurry initially seems a bit chaotic, it soon becomes apparent that absolutely everything and anything goes on at Global Mega Inc. That's largely down to whimsical MD Jeremiah Baptiste (Cliff Chapman) who's just as happy to fund a bank as he is a space programme. The kinder among you would say that's diversification in action, the majority of you would say he's plain stupid. And you'd be right.

In playing Jeremiah, Chapman channels Matt Berry in, well, everything but particularly as Douglas Reynholm in The IT Crowd. He doesn't just mimic the voice, he mirrors the same overblown hand gestures and far away "I'm having a flashback" stares. Whilst Chapman can do a decent impersonation of Berry - and that's a difficult voice to pull off - both he and the material are more entertaining when not trying to homage a cult character, as the rest of the sketches do clearly show. Chapman has the audience in stitches as a typically British over-polite police officer - Jeremiah may be his main character, but he's thankfully not the only one. Stick with it, the writing and acting are more than just a nod to Graham Linehan, with the laughs only getting louder as the hour progresses.

In exploring Global Mega Inc's trading activities, we meet a number of "characters" such as angry former employee Edwin (Joselyn), super-keen intern Per... umm... Karen (Emma Stirling) and surprisingly efficient tall, dark and silent Thomas (Jordan). It's a bit reminiscent of comedy duo Ward and Watt's Journey to the Centre of the Office, but Bad Bat bring sharper, more considered writing with plenty of callbacks which actually work, original personalities and a slicker finish. Office based humour isn't exactly new - in fact, I think there may even be a tv sitcom named after one - so it has to be done well to be truly funny. Jordan's writing is carefully thought out, with the characters growing on you the more you spend time with them, so he does indeed manage to tick the truly funny box.

It may be ineloquent, but there's no more accurate way to describe Gallagher's performance than saying she does "mad eyes" brilliantly. As a cashier for one of Global Mega Inc's subsidiaries and a widow on the brink, Gallagher really brings home the laughs. Her shrieking grows louder and louder, her eyes madder and madder - there's one perfectly framed scene towards the end of the show where Gallagher, Jordan and Joselyn stand in the background, Gallagher swaying slightly and her eyes almost popping out of her head. The three are almost cartoonish in their varied styles of insane - Jordan deliberately calmer and Joselyn a gurning cross between the Phantom, Quasimodo and someone with a TOWIE-level of intellect. As he demonstrated in the Future Boys plays Dead Static and Pilgrim Shadow, he's clever at acting dumb - at least, we hope it's an act. Jordan normally can be found off-stage rather than on it, but he does a decent job as a supporting character, helped by casting himself in deliberately two-dimensional short parts. He slips a few times, but never so far that the audience don't forgive him.

The cast and creatives behind Global Mega Inc are perhaps better known on the fringe circuit for humorous sci-fi plays rather than sketch comedy, but this does seem like a natural sidestep, and one which they make with confidence and high-energy. You can tell they're all having a lot of a fun together in this show, and it seeps out into the performance. Whether you've been the wage slave at the bottom of the corporate pyramid or the evil manager at the top, Global Mega Inc is a relatable parody of big business which promises a good time.

Global Mega Inc ran from 16th to 18th April 2015 at the Etcetera Theatre.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

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