Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: Work Sucks

No one dreams of working in a restaurant. That's not entirely true. If you own one, you might, but it's rare to find anyone itching to be a server or busboy or sous chef. In Tony Borden's Dead Lunch, or Who Prays for Bad Weather, we see the working class in action as they try to survive a dead end job. Borden's dark comedy is a commentary on the working class and the millennial work ethic. The play is broken into two parts. First is a day in the life in the dining room. The second is that same day in the life but in the kitchen. It's a clever device that when we see it in full force in Act II, you’re waiting for the other perspective. But until then, Dead Lunch is an absurd comedy that spends much time talking about nothing before any action begins. Act I focuses on two waitresses who have little care for the job or their boss, Graham. They spend much time complaining and messing up royaly. Even when costumers arrive, they can’t seem to get their act together. The one aspect that keeps their narrative together is their constant rumor mill of busboy Sean. In Act II, we see Sean and the rest of the kitchen staff in a less light atmosphere. Their conversations are a little more dramatic. The biggest problem of the play, despite the clever concept, is that it lacks guidance. With Borden serving as director as well, there was intent missing. And much of that intent was lost due to pacing. The play was slow. Very slow. Perhaps rehearsing with a metronome set to a quick tempo would assist in the rhythm of the piece.
It's possible the downfall of the play could be partially blamed on the acting company. Even if they had little direction, there seemed to have an amateur aura to it. If acting is about listening and reacting, this company seemed to forget that lesson in acting class. Each person seemed to be in their own tiny bubble, lacking any stage chemistry with their costars.
A new director would bring this piece to the next level. But what Borden did offer was some strong design intent. The subtly of color was much appreciated, most notably in the various aprons. Additionally, the gore work was simple and exciting. The set by was simple with just mere suggestion. In this festival setting, trying to do anymore would have been insane. The less is more mantra was put to good use.
It's unfortunate that the wrong pieces were placed together to form Dead Lunch. There is an interesting discussion in Borden's script but execution was killer. Passing it off to a capable director is the next step.