For all those people who work in an office, you know that moment when the most mundane thing happens, like the photocopier refuses to work, and the only reaction you can muster up is a daydream that involves the entire office breaking into a musical sequence proclaiming your woes – jazz hands and all? Oh yeah, and with you as the starring role, of course. Admit it; you have. I have at least, and I like to think I’m in the majority. Well this is CAPS LOCK: The Musical, from Pipedream Theatre Project. And there’s more to it than breaking out into song – it’s a musical about office romance and all the problems that can occur from relying on social media to communicate with your beloved.
The story focuses on Betty, a cubicle office worker version of Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, and her boyfriend Ted. The two (smitten with each other) are about to move in together; not without some difficulty though. The morning begins with Ted being sweet as pie and emailing Betty to let her know he will pick up her favorite cereal at the grocery store after work since, well, the last time she went to eat cereal she mistakenly ate kitty litter. Right, so now you know Betty, sweet as sweet can be, may just be slightly oblivious. Betty in her eagerness to respond to Ted writes back in all CAPS LOCK. Ending with a “WTF ABOUT THE OTHER NIGHT!?” Let me translate: WTF in Betty’s world means ‘wasn’t that funny?’ I know, social etiquette fail.
A baffled Ted doesn’t know how to respond. After many attempts of writing different style emails in response, a process we can all relate to, Ted sends it and ends it. Then, NEWTORK FAILURE. Anyone working in an office can relate to the devastating frenzy this leads to (and probably just experienced a full body shudder at the thought of the stress that ensues). Finally! A song and dance sequence proclaiming the incapacitating tragedy this is for offices that rely so heavily on the internet. Dramatic? Absolutely not. Ted, however, is in a bit of a conundrum. They have a lunch date and Betty hasn’t read the email (which Ted instantly regrets) and now he must strike a deal with the IT guy to make sure it is deleted. The IT guy who just so happens to be in love with Betty.
The unfolding of this drama is what the musical surrounds, and not without equally loveable supporting characters as well. Ted’s neighboring desk buddy is a Jock that is skeptical of entering any sort of serious relationship and his most educated idea comes from a video he saw on YouTube. Betty’s desk neighbor is the office vixen who is on a mission to woo the office accountant, Gene, with her feminine wiles. A web of office humour, love triangles, songs and miscommunications allows the story to take place as a comedy of errors.
For anyone who has experience working in an office or for those of us who rely so heavily on social media to communicate, there are a few moments where you’ll be able to relate to situations unfolding onstage. In a society so rich with resources for communicating, we tend to avoid the obvious and update statuses or fire off emails rather than talking face to face – which Ted learns the hard way.
Tweets, Facebook status, blog updates aside, some problems must be handled the old fashioned way. This is what CAPS LOCK addresses, in an exaggerated, comedic and entertaining manner. The most captivating aspect of the whole show is how well-written it is and the ease and vibrancy the actors play off of each other. The character dynamics are well developed and creates a fast-play, witty banter throughout the whole show ending with a great number about a colon, dash and capital D. Just like so – :-D.
Set in such an intimate space at the Studio 16 in Kits, and a stage set up like an office with personalized desks for each character, you can’t help but feel like the thrilled guilty co-worker who is eavesdropping on the newest office gossip, while innocently trying to look like you are writing a ‘very important email’. Creative in scope and well-executed, CAPS LOCK: The Musical is worth checking out and in a light-hearted way, will cause you to leave re-evaluating the quality of our day-to-day communication. Oh, and I can’t guarantee you won’t leave singing “colon, dash, capital D” under your breath for the rest of the week!
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