Work: A Play
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
April 28, 2011
It has become increasingly difficult to perceive a future of American democracy that is not ruled by corporatism. Last year’s Supreme Court ruling opened the flood gates to corporate spending on elections and that in turn has heralded the further takeover of our political system. So it is only natural that we see a flood of parodies about working in the belly of the corporate beast.
No Tea Productions has cobbled together an often funny and very scathing look at the corporate world. It is a multimedia play that combines short film and comic vignettes that, for the most part, tell the story of a group of employees of a giant conglomerate called the Ouroboros Corporation. Ouroboros has their hands in everything from big pharma to finance. Many of the film segments are ads for all the different products and services that Ouroboros provides, while other segments might be part of an orientation film for new employees or slices of life in the office.
It is the live action sketches that detail the story of the aforementioned employees who have been tasked with making their big PowerPoint presentation to the big cheese less “Power Pointy.” Many of you who have worked in an office environment will appreciate the parody here. There is a lot of grabbing of credit while at the same time sloughing off the actual work to other more talented and hard-working members of the team. There is also a lot of corporate callousness and cruelty from upper management toward the team leaders and temps as they claw their way to the top of the ladder. It is all funny and kind of sad when you think that, even though is this satire, it really isn’t that far from the reality.
I enjoyed the short film segments most of all. The work is really quite brilliant and well-produced and well-shot on a small-budget scale. Their parodies of ads selling us drugs and technology that we don’t need are especially poignant and hilarious. I felt like I could connect with these most of all because I’ve seen such ads on TV. The funniest, and by far the darkest, segment is the biting short film about a group of insensitive managers trying to figure out how to replace a dead temp and still have the work done within the hour. Jeremy Mather, Lindsey Moore, and Jeff Sproul directed the films with Mather doing a great job with the editing. All three made memorable short films with good camera work, good acting, and good writing. I assume that these will be going viral soon.
Moore directs the stage play. The writing team is headed by Mather, Moore, and Sproul, with the ensemble credited as well. The writing is funny but a little unfocused. There a many office/corporate world parodies out there and in order to make something fresh you have to really push the jokes to the edge—when the show works it’s bizarre and dark, when it doesn’t it’s gets a little too obvious with the joke.
The ensemble does a great job. They each take on several different characters and find something funny about each one. I always enjoy Sproul’s performances. He is very talented and funny character actor. Other standout performances come from Jeremy Banks, Sabrina Farhi, and Alicia Barnatchez, but overall the ensemble comes together very well to create a fun show with lots of strange characters and lots of action.
Work: A Play has the makings of something great. I enjoyed the intelligence behind the work and it’s good for some laughs. No Tea has been turning some good shows over the past few years and they deserve your support. (And so does the venue Under St. Mark’s). Get down there and check this one out.