Give Epic Theatre Company credit for once again presenting a modern, dark, outside-the-box play that gives its audience something to think about.
Leslye Headland’s one-act, hour and a half “Assistance,” aptly directed by Ross Gavlin, is about a group of office assistants who deal with an off-stage boss and each other, spending most of their time on the phone in a workplace where nothing ever seems to get done. In fact, we are never let in on what they do, except bicker, talk about the demanding boss, and put people on hold.
Nick (Jonathan Fisher) has been in a meaningless job for too long, watching those around him being promoted or fired. Enter Nora (Kerry Giorgi), who challenges Nick at every turn, facing the challenge of a relationship that teeters on the edge of professionalism.
I couldn’t help but think of the comic strip “Dilbert” and some of the outrageous situations that arise from employees caught up in an office atmosphere that takes over their lives.
The six characters spend more time taking on the phone than to each other, which at times becomes a bit irritating both to each other and to the audience.
Headland addresses a number of issues from the office pecking order to treatment of interns, taking responsibility, becoming expendable and assigning blame, all from a dark perspective. It is hard to have any positive feelings for the characters she has created.
That being said, the cast, which also includes Michael Shawcross, Allie Meek, Sean Carufel and Amanda Grossi, work well in ensemble.
If you work in an office, you may recognize some of your co-workers, who are all having a bad day at the office.
“Assistance” is at the Artists’ Exchange Theatre 82, 82 Rolfe St., Cranston, through February 22. For more information go to www.epictheatreri.org.