A barely concealed swipe at the working practices of big online retailers, Wish List tells the story of a young woman caring for her OCD-afflicted brother while struggling to make ends meet at her warehouse packaging job.
Tamsin’s (Erin Doherty) jittery existence involves trying (and failing) to meet her impossible packaging quota, as a relentless procession of orders makes its way down a chute for her to box up. There she meets Luke (Shaquille Ali-Yebuah), a cocky packager who makes a positive dent in her worried disposition thanks to his care-free attitude to what he sees as a mindless temp job.
Playwright Katherine Soper riffs on the futility of feigning enthusiasm for such dehumanising work, especially in the face of far larger responsibilities. Tamsin’s brother Dean (Joseph Quinn) struggles with everyday life, tapping rhythmically on surfaces to calm himself. His small domestic triumphs are overshadowed by his mounting anxiety, reflected by the excellent sound design, which grows to a crescendo as his struggles intensify.
Thankfully, there’s light relief from the delightfully awkward romance that sprouts between Tamsin and Luke, the peak of which has her reluctantly performing I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) after discovering a customer has ordered a Meatloaf LP. As her shaky rendition progresses, her confidence grows and she’s rewarded with a hard-earned kiss.
The cast imbue their characters with a likeable humanity despite their ongoing battles against wasted ambition, missed opportunity, mental illness and income inequality. A nicely rounded and unassuming production, Wish List will give you pause for thought when lamenting your latest bargain’s unreasonable dispatch time.