Corporate culture has not fared well during the pandemic. As a country, we’ve quickly learned that we have a very low tolerance for sincere emails from the likes of Burger King explaining how they’re supporting us in these difficult times. One which has fared particularly badly, however, is the House of Mouse – it turns out that their business model of cramming as many people as possible into a fairy-tale petri dish is not particularly resilient in times like these.
Bard Overboard: A Global Pandemic Special takes a particularly blistering look at the Disney-esque brand of saccharine corporate cynicism. To avoid any lawsuits, they’ve carefully branded the play’s company as Wonder World – a cruise ship conglomerate. We are introduced to hapless associate cruise director Liam (Rupert Fennessy), who is trying to orchestrate a corporate video rehearsal entirely over Zoom as his listless and quarantined employees descend into bickering. Their increasingly fraught call can strike a little too close to home (office) – undoubtedly, we can all relate to the inevitable chorus of “YOU’RE ON MUTE!”, which starts as soon as the dreaded red microphone pops up on an elderly relative’s screen.
Particularly impressive is that Bard Overboard actively integrates Zoom’s functionality into its script, making the most of situation that must be far from ideal; making expert use of breakout rooms to highlight specific interactions between members of the cast. Comedic timing can be tricky to master at the best of times, let alone over the internet, but the cast rise to the occasion. Whether they’re a children’s entertainer with delusions of grandeur (Harris Solomon) or the exhausted voice of Wonder World’s Legal advisor (Leul Abate), the cast bounce off each other and keep the energy high throughout.
Although we’re all sick of the tropes associated with COVID – whether that be the word “unprecedented” or the drone shots of deserted streets from March – the combination of a tight script and good editing keeps Bard Overboard feeling surprisingly fresh and novel.
Bard Overboard: A Global Pandemic Holiday Special is available to watch until 31 January here