Career moves

Missing Something

By Stephen A. Fulchino
Directed by Cindy Fulchino
p.i.e. productions
Sande Shurin Theatre
311 W. 43rd St., 6th fl. (206-1515)
Equity showcase (closes June 23)
Review by Elias Stimac

If you work a 9-to-5 desk job, then attending the play Missing Something may feel like a vacation day one moment, and unwanted overtime the next. That is because the play is not sure whether it wants to celebrate, spoof, or censure the stereotypes and situations inherent of the corporate world.

Missing Something is a rather accurate title for this new theatre piece by Stephen A. Fulchino. This four-part production about office politics is missing a little bit of everything. The script has some strong, savvy moments; the direction is occasionally inspired; the acting features several strong performances; and the technical contributions display flashes of brilliance. But none of these elements is consistent throughout the evening, and in the end, everything seemed to suffer from this imbalance. The fact that the play is segmented into four parts also doesn't help director Cindy Fulchino keep the action smooth or the pacing steady.

Jealousy among co-workers, in-fighting, layoffs, and outside pressures are all covered in Fulchino's play. Part of the point he appears to want to make is that climbing up and falling from the corporate ladder is both cyclical and unpredictable, and nobody's footing is ever completely secure. But the end result seems more repetitious than revelatory, weakening in particular his arguments and accusations against upper management and its hiring and firing policies.

More successful are Fulchino's portraits of the various personalities that clash in the office, aided immeasurably by some fine and funny actresses. Jill Heller was comically stoic as a quiet new girl who comes up with a moneymaking (and career-making) idea, and Kimrie Lewis proved to be hilarious as the cursing customer service operator Amelia. Marti J. Cooney and Gillian Fallon created a credible conference between two higher-ups plotting some downsizing. Judy Stone was heartlessly heartbreaking as the older businesswoman who is all business, and Victoria Feder authoritatively played hardball as a hardened boss. Rich Warren and Barbara Wilkov gave a valiant effort as a happy couple whose relationship disintegrates without much provocation. Other pencil-pushers included Renee Ashcroft, Katherine Nolan Browne, and Sarah Hayon. Brad Makarowski and double-cast Cooney prompted a few laughs in cameo roles.

Set designer Christie Phillips and lighting designer Louis Malagrino collaborated on an eerie tableau of file cabinets that glowed in the dark between scenes. However, the shifting desk configurations make stage movement precarious and set transitions clumsy, while the lighting during scenes had patches of shadow center stage. Sydney Shannon coordinated the appropriate business attire, and Malagrino's sound selections were whimsical but somewhat muted.

Opening the evening was a thoroughly enjoyable curtain raiser called Smithfield & Cox, a clever comedy by Brian Dykstra. The whole premise focused on commenting on itself, continuously pointing out the dynamics between stage performers and audience members.

Director Amanda J. Crater stages the piece crisply, and actors Rich Warren and Brad Makarowski bantered and bickered in the tradition of the great comedy teams.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2002 Elias Stimac