It’s a structure that could have become muddled and confusing if not for the strength of the cast, and deft direction from Nino Raphael. It’s not easy synchronising 10 people, but for the most part Order Up makes it look effortless.
For a show advertised as a cabaret, Order Up does seem a little light on the music. It’s a devised work featuring musical numbers, rather than a musical. The songs that were performed are entertaining and there are talented singers and musicians in the cast. Occasionally it’s hard to hear the lyrics over the music, and a few of the jokes are lost in the noise.
The show’s strongest scenes involve audience interaction, and I couldn’t help wishing there were more. These interactions were a perfect articulation of the shows most interesting theme, the link between performance onstage, and performance as a hospitality worker. For me, the highlight of the show was the ‘interval’. Most of the cast left the stage, and barista, Harri Hashim set up a coffee machine and started making audience members a mid show coffee. There was a bit of banter, a bit of debate about video games, and finally he sung us 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' at the audience's request.
Although Harri plays ‘himself’ as he makes coffees, his presence onstage reminds us that politeness and likeability is a performance in itself. These interactions create a connection that was particular to our audience -- no two performances could be exactly alike. It was a beautiful reminder that good hospitality is in many ways, an art form.
Order Up is an intelligent and well rehearsed show. It is a reminder of the often inconsiderate ways hospitality workers are treated. It asks us all to do and be better. But it is also a celebration of the often messy, often stressful hospo work that so many of us undertake. As a past McDonalds worker I found Order Up painfully relatable, and incredibly entertaining. When I grabbed some BK on the way home from the show I made sure to be gracious, having just been reminded of how difficult hospitality can be.
Order Up is currently showing at BATS Theatre until Saturday 16th February. It is a part of the 6 Degrees Festival, the final projects of MFA theatre students at Victoria University of Wellington. To book tickets, visit the BATS Theatre website. To find out more about the 6 Degrees Festival, visit their website.