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Review: Empty In Angel (The Etcetera Theatre)

Tuesday: CHIK’N.

Thursday: McDonalds.

Friday: Chicken Cottage.

It’s safe to say I use Deliveroo a lot. Not just Deliveroo, an Amazon Fresh arrived as I typed this sentence. Over the last year, there has been a meteoric rise in home-delivery services and the reliance on couriers has never been stronger. We often hear stories of restaurants and businesses struggling to keep up with demands, but what about the riders?

James Woolf’s Empty in Angel explores the messy world of the gig-economy, a world that so many of us rely on - whether it be for a weekly shop or just a little fast food fix. A mix of true stories, videos and testimonies, Empty in Angel follows Watsie (from Watford) and the collective fight to improve working conditions for couriers, ending in a historic employment tribunal hearing.

Empty in Angel is messy, almost chaotic at times; we jump (or should I say cycle) from one Watsie conversation to another on the turn of a pin, meeting fellow couriers such as Brighton (from Brighton) Cornwall (from Cornwall) and Devon ( get the idea). Where some may feel the story accelerates too quickly, I find it gives the audience a sense of the frenetic roads, pathways and journeys couriers are confined to navigate on a daily basis. Darcy Willison, as Watsie, jumps effortlessly from one role to another. From snobby barristers to mailroom clerks, Willison is the crux of the show, under strong direction from Katherine Reilly. Each character is so clearly defined and Willisons energy is enviably relentless for the duration of the show - leaving her visibly sweating by its end.

The more naturalistic conversations are intersected by darts into rhythmic spoken word, Woolf’s heady concoction of Shakespeare-and-Kae-Tempest-like text pushes the story along but really gives heart to the narrative. Willison nimbly dances through these moments, ensuring that the words are clearly heard and the passion is undoubted.

Empty in Angel is a superb call-to-arms for greater workers-rights for couriers, an energetically informative story and a show I’d thoroughly recommend you go and see while you can. You can catch Empty in Angel on tour at here.

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