What happens when a former anarchist becomes director of marketing at a candy company, and the Christian Right unites at a shareholder meeting to stand behind the risk-averse, evil head of Finance who wants to put a stop to the new product, called "Shitballs"? Not much.
It is unfortunate, because Sander Hicks is a gifted writer. His poetic language combines the sharp banter of Mamet with the poetry of Heiner Müller. With guns drawn in the boardroom, the director of Finance speaks, "The tree of liberty is occasionally fed with blood."
Hicks's understanding of poetic situation creates an executive hunting trip in which interviewees for their motivational speaker slot are shot down if their mental accuity did not keep pace.
The most glaring structural problem is when Fitz, the CEO, is killed by the hated Leonard. Calculatrice has the perfect opportunity to turn Leonard into the authorities and take control of the company. Instead, she incomprehensibly hides the death of Fitz, while Leonard gathers forces for a full attack on the firm.
The script winds up in an endless Marxist diatribe that seems naively outdated, and is reminiscent of the worst in '60s political drama: The rich are bad! The poor must unite!
Words don't change people, concrete action does. And in the final analysis, no character changes.
The director, Richard Eoin Nash-Siedlecki, conceived the entire production as a kind of corporate boardroom presentation, complete with slick slide graphics--by Severn Clay and Heidi I. Nash-Siedlecki.
Director Siedlecki created a particularly exquisite scene where the poetry and visuals meet and explode. Calculatrice lies on a desk in the form of a fallen deer. With a microphone near her mouth, she intones a poem of the corporate life as hunt. A Kronos quartet type piece plays as eerie accompaniment. Robert Wilson and Richard Foreman's visions echo here. It is unfortunate that there were not more magical moments like this.
Severn Clay's set was clean, shiny and sleak - almost all metal and on wheels. The fashionable black corporate attire contrasted with the dressed-down blue-collar look in Robin I. Shane's sleak and stunning costumes.
The sound design by Jennifer Leong--including birds, guns, and various music--was indeed music to the ears. Though at times it was hard to hear the actors.
Emme Shaw deftly played the knife-edged Calculatrice.
James Urbaniak managed to make the unlikable Leonard Kildare
endearing. Sean Gullette, Joe Golden, Mark Byrne,
Paul Albe, Daniel Pardo all put in admirable performances.
And Rosemarie Cepeda and Joyce Lee played a couple
of memorable moments as the all-but-forgotten confectioners' union
members, who would rather eat lunch and write a comedy than start
a revolution. Maybe Mr. Hicks should join them.
Set /Lighting 2
Sound 1/Slides 1
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Copyright 1998 James A. Lopata