Theatre | Fair Retail | Ken Longworth

TEAM SPIRIT: Back - Amanda Williamson, Tyler Atcheson, Jack Madden, Katrina Hailstone. Front - Madelaine Sacco, Talahiva Crofts, Hugo Brennan.
TEAM SPIRIT: Back - Amanda Williamson, Tyler Atcheson, Jack Madden, Katrina Hailstone. Front - Madelaine Sacco, Talahiva Crofts, Hugo Brennan.

MANY university students work part-time in supermarkets and other retail outlets, so it’s not surprising that Newcastle University Drama Society has put together a satirical comedy that looks at the experiences of people involved in customer service roles.

The show, Fair Retail, has performances at the Factory Theatre, Adamstown, on October 14 and 15 at 7pm. It’s an appropriate venue, given its proximity to several major retail areas.

Fair Retail was initiated by Jack Madden, who is a part-time retail employee, with other students contributing their observations while working in places such as supermarkets and service stations, and as waiters and waitresses. They also put forward experiences they had as retail customers.

Madden co-directs with Maddison Whan, with the pair also playing roles. Madden is a retail veteran, Eric, and Whan has an amusing cameo role as a sexy woman who makes a surprise appearance.

Jack Madden’s Eric, takes a new girl at the supermarket where he is employed under his wing. The girl, Molly (played by Talahiva Crofts), is trying to work out where she fits into the world, but is happy to spend her days on the checkouts until she makes a decision.

Molly joins two cheeky checkout girls, Natalie (Amanda Williamson) and Casey (Madelaine Sacco), who are a dynamic pair of gossips – and sing a pirate shanty-style musical number to try to make Molly welcome.

The other characters include: Dallas Pughbern Jr (Luke Hughes), the grocery store’s head manager who provides a lot of the comedy; Gavin (Oliver Coury), a nasty manager who sternly puts all the employees in what he sees as their place; Anneliese (Katrina Hailstone), a fatigued delicatessen worker; Riley (Hugo Brennan), a shelf stacker with a dark secret; and Jacob (Tyler Atcheson), a quiet member of the custodial team who is the staff’s voice of reason.

Ensemble cast members, Alysha Durrant, Brittany Cole, Kayli McKenzie and Kendall Lowe, play roles including diverse customers who complain about small issues and harass the workers, a deli worker who is notorious for calling in sick, and a demonic spirit that lives in the oven where chickens and other foods are cooked, and sings a diva anthem to the tired Anneliese. And, in another song, three of the young female employees fantasise about getting revenge on the manager.

The Factory Theatre is in the grounds of St Pius X High School, with access to the car park adjoining the theatre from Park Avenue. Tickets for the show are $15, concession $10, and can be booked through eventbrite.com.au, or bought at the door.