nytheatre.com review by Heather Lee Rogers
September 25, 2010
Title: Point Productions' latest play Field 309 is delivered to you straight out of the media hype of the current economic crisis. It is a world where employment status is everything but you or anyone you work with could be eliminated at any time. It is a world where downsizing and corporate takeovers are the daily headlines. It's a world where demeaning measures to increase productivity multiply desperately. It is a world where lowering cost is everything but companies can afford research panels to conduct field studies to review their assessment teams.
In Field 309 Mister Pants arrives at his absurd office job one day to find that not only is he no longer allowed a chair at his work station but, even worse, his longtime work partner has been replaced overnight by Mister Agis. Mister Agis is a chipper new hire, eager to befriend Mister Pants, learn the job, and prove her worth to the company. The job itself is a series of nonsensical activities including regular water breaks, operating a giant calculator, attempts at eating, and moving paper from one place to another. While Mister Pants and Mister Agis are "working," a rag-tag "Observation Team" listen in and spy on them with horn-like instruments and coordinate with each other walkie-talkie style. The data they collect is delivered to the Board of Directors: two suited men who appear to the audience in hilarious, deadpan video sequences arguing about what to vote on, how to increase production, and, most of all, how to bureaucratically conduct themselves. The measures they vote on include "increasing snacks" and "bringing someone in." Their increasingly dehumanizing directives are delivered to Mister Pants and Mister Agis through Judith, their direct supervisor, who pretends to offer her support while dropping off assignments and food in a file box with a mailbox flag. The "someone" who is brought in is Mister Duele, whose arrival halfway through the play introduces a whole new level of anxiety, assessment, and interrogation to the workday of Mister Pants and Mister Agis.
And why do they put up with this? Because, "It's crazy out there!" That's what the characters in the play say. That's what the newscasters and columnists tell us every day, isn't it? We're supposed to believe we're all just lucky to have a job, any job, because the job market is so bad and no one's getting hired. So no matter how ridiculous, uncomfortable, and unrealistic the expectations are at the workplace in Field 309, the driving conflict in the play is the fear of getting fired. The worst that can happen is finding out that who you are and what you uniquely contribute are no longer needed.
It's fun, juicy material Title: Point is working with. Writer/director Theresa Buchheister deserves great commendation for her pointed, stylized, and efficient script and overall inventive vision which guides this play so successfully. The performers are all strong individually and make a great ensemble. I particularly enjoyed the initial contrast of Ryan William Downey as the gruff Mr. Pants and Jennette Selig as the cheerful Mister Agis and the arc that their relationship takes. I also loved Jeff Randall Rose as Mister Duele, who really runs with the absurd style of the play but manages to work every beat in his repetitive scenes in a nuanced, believable way. Best of all, it's a play with a point of view enacted with such a high level of imagination that it never feels preachy or heavy. I highly recommend getting down to the Incubator Arts Project to check this one out (with or without your supervisor's approval).