September 9 — October 14, 2000
LA Weekly — Pick of the Week!
By Urs Widmer
Translated by Patricia Benecke
Directed by Frédérique Michel
Production Design and Dramaturgy by Charles A. Duncombe Jr.
Cast: Tatiana Alvarez, Joel Drazner, Richard Grove, Dyan Kane, Dennis Ottobre, Mark Rebernik, Bo Roberts, Gene Williams
LA Weekly — Pick of the Week!review by Constance Monaghan
Swiss playwright Urs Widmer’s brutally funny look at life after downsizing may be billed as surreal, but to anyone familiar with the corporate milieu, it can only seem painfully real. It opens with an endless series of huge, projected mouths announcing name, impressive corporate title and obscene salary. When next we find ourselves in a roomful of these same “top dogs,” now jobless clients of the New Challenge Corporation employment agency, our pity can’t help but be tinged with smug satisfaction. That duality of response continues as we empathize with this “white-collar trash” newly shorn of identity (literally clinging to their wingtips and pumps) and simultaneously scorn them for weaknesses we also identify with. Director Frederique Michel brilliantly balances the explosively comic and movingly melancholic in a precise, stylish staging that segues from drill-team choreography, to dead-on spotlit monologues (one man fantasizes becoming a zookeeper while a woman imagines impressing her hard-nosed mother with a top-floor office), to re-enactments of the characters firings. The ensemble is impressive: Tatiana Alvarez, Joel Drazner, Richard Grove, Dyan Kane, Dennis Ottobre, Mark Rebernik, Bo Roberts and Gene Williams. Charles Duncombe Jr. created the set, lighting, sound and video (along with Cristian YoungMiller and Arosh Ayrom).