Review: Piss and Bile (The Space, online)

Described as “a cup of comedy with a slice of existential dread” by its creators, Piss and Bile is the debut play from Beth Wilson and Daniella Finch from the theatre company Five Pigeons Pecking a Bin Bag.

We’re in Bob’s Bistro, where two waitresses (Wilson and Finch) are moving between the mundane events of their day, including a succession of difficult customers all played by Ted Marriot, and internal monologues or flights of fancy.

Piss and Bile looks at the preoccupations of twenty-somethings through the medium of jokes, disillusion and cautious friendship. It is about finding your place in the world on your own terms, making your own choices, filtering out your inner critic.

Although it might work better as a tighter show of around an hour’s length, Piss and Bile is very funny and completely relatable. Both women seek to escape the monotony of life in and out of their work, but nothing seems available but a series of dead ends.

Production shot from Piss and Bile

These women are sardonic, lethargic, and fed-up. As customers come to order coffee, food, and make demands – notably, a wealthy woman requests the removal of the service charge – they are openly polite while inside they rage. Anyone who has spent any time in a front-facing role will understand.

When the second half of the play moves into a more physical form of comedy, it comes to life, and I would have liked to see more. There’s also a strong scene of conversation between the two women which manages to say both nothing and everything.

The strength of the writing is apparent throughout; the staging and occasional interaction with the audience is sharp and knowing. We have all met these women. Some of us might have been them at one time in our lives.

You can see Piss and Bile at The Space live until 26 March – more details here, or on demand online until 7 April – details here.

Image credit: Nickey Van Tooren