Fulfilment is a theatre piece aiming to reveal the faces behind the smiling orange logo of Amazon next day delivery. It aims high in its vilification of Amazon warehouse conditions and the human obsession with convenience, but it fails to strike with the poignancy that it could. The ideas are interesting but the execution lacks conviction and believability, ultimately undermining their message.
The show follows two trajectories, one being Robox – the ultimate tool to reach human fulfilment. This puppet, constructed from cardboard boxes and controlled by three cast members, is the audience’s personal slave. Robox strives to please, ceaselessly following the desires of the audience creating a different show every day. It is the smiling face and sickly-sweet voice masking what lies behind our materialistic fulfilment.
The creation of Robox carries Fulfilment. The audience interaction is amusing whilst also driving a point of societal reliance on materialistic objects to gain happiness. Robox’s movements are well choreographed and, especially in the moments of improvisation, their movements are impressively slick and polished.
It is the show’s second strand that lets itself down. A dark narrative of the Amazon warehouses, or ‘Fulfilment Centres’ sits alongside Robox’s performance. This part of the show follows the workers, whose jobs are “based on short-term contracts and fear”. This exposé is based on true accounts of warehouse workers, but it is enacted poorly so fails to really uncover the sinister truths that lie behind this global company.
The actors shout over one another in an attempt to create a frenzied atmosphere which is far from successful. They frantically run between boxes, aggressively grabbing and throwing items around the room, but rather than creating an overwhelming pandemonium, the performance becomes awkwardly superficial and disengaging.
These two storylines should complement one another, but instead, they fit together awkwardly. The ironic humour of Robox’s audience interaction is interspersed with one-dimensional and slightly clichéd monologues. These two separate trajectories criss-cross chaotically throughout the show and the tone becomes confused. It is like watching two different shows at once – incongruent and ultimately distracting.
Fulfilment is thought-provoking in concept. It is successful in its conviction of consumerism, drawing back the curtain to reveal what is behind those “cardboard packages of happiness” that arrive on our doorsteps with just one click. Unfortunately, it lets itself down in execution. It is overly chaotic to a point that it loses its momentum, and their message does not strike as sharply as it could have. Fulfilment has so much potential, but this performance does not manage to fully grasp it.
Fulfilment is on at Underbelly Cowgate
Until August 25th @ 15.40
Image: Tom Ziebell