Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Receptionist

photo: Joan Marcus

We're in what appears to be an ordinary office watching the Mom-faced receptionist (Jayne Houdyshell) direct incoming calls when she's not dispensing no-nonsense love advice to a co-worker or making light chit-chat with the Central Office suit who's dropped by unexpectedly to have a word with her boss. This is the mundane, seemingly benign first half of Adam Bock's tidy one-act which, with one bombshell, reveals itself as a cautionary modern-day allegory. (Think of the reveal in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, and you'll get a rough idea of the impact, and the gravity, of Bock's sucker-punch.) It could be said that the play is built around a single gimmick - for that reason there will certainly be some theatregoers who will say the play is "slight" - but I wouldn't agree. Do you know that adage that says that the first act of a play is the performance, and the second act is what happens when the audience digests it afterwards? I suspect that this second act will be repeating on me for a long time.

No comments: