L-R: Michael Ray Wisely, Carrie Paff, Mark Anderson Phillips, and
Photos by Carol
By Eugene Paul
English’s conference room setting is so apt we’re immediately persuaded to
believe whatever happens. Scooter (Ben Euphrat) and Hannah (Carrie Paff) are
prepping for a meeting. The friction between them is sending us its sizzle.
We, audience, are perking in our seats. Okay. Onward. It’s obvious Scooter is
challenging Hannah’s authority to run the expected session and her authority
over him to participate. In fact, her authority altogether. He’s the boss’s
son. Ha. He’s not phased a whit when she fires him, not just from the
meeting, from the company. He’ll be back. Via technology, the boss, J.D.,
(Brian Dykstra) is there– we never see him --, we just hear his room filling
voice questioning Hannah about the firing. Things are left as they are in
limbo but Hannah is going to have to produce. The meeting has gotten too
Carrie Paff, Mark Anderson Phillips, Jason Kapoor, Ben Euphrat,
and Michael Ray Wisely
file Brock (Mark Anderson Phillips) seasoned, sarcastic, cocky, Ted (Michael
Ray Wisely) full bore company man, and Sandeep (Jason Kapoor) hulking, sensual,
enigmatic, half their age. They take their places around the table. Brock
takes Hannah’s chair at the presumed head of the table. Wiseassed smirk.
They’re here to come up with and present a plan to J.D. for the discreet
disposal of anticipated bodies in case of a plague. Two million of them. They
have very little time.
Wisely Photos by Carol
can’t just sit and discuss. Lots of planning meetings in his history. He’s up
on his feet at the whiteboard, marker in hand, laying out a schematic for
Operation Senna, whatever that is, his title for their project plans. It’s
obvious that the disposal of two million bodies discretely is not a simple
problem. Bury them? How? Where? And – discretely? Meaning that we, the
public, would notice nothing? Not now, not ever? This is a big deal, this
planning, for this team. Especially for Hannah, now not quite so comfortable
as team leader, and when Brock mockingly shoots down burial as a means of
disposal, she’s shaken.
move on. Burial at sea? Ted’s pushing for it, Brock plows this one under,
too. Hannah gets tense. They have to develop and present a plan. And soon.
Sandeep says nothing.
Carrie Paff and Mark Anderson Phillips
various means for getting rid of two million bodies so that nobody notices is
getting more and more difficult and a note of panic enters their arguments.
Only to be heightened by Sandeep finally joining the discussion – it’s still a
discussion at this stage – even though Ted has erased and rewritten the
projected ideas on the whiteboard over and over again. What if, Sandeep
proposes, there really is a deadly virus loose? What if there are really two
million corpses that no one knows about, how has that taken place? Without
anybody knowing? And if it’s that secret and we are the ones to solve the
problem, doesn’t that make us – disposable? If deep discretion is the goal?
panic percolates. They have to take a break. Brock and Ted go out. Hannah
kisses Sandeep fiercely, hungrily. Their affair, young hunk, older babe, is
ongoing and at its warmest. Discovery would be disastrous. Hannah cannot
resist the risk. They break off as Brock and Ted come back. Sandeep proposes
that this is not real, it’s just a test, that they are being monitored all
through their deliberations, that the whole conference room is bugged. He is
Carrie Paff, Michael Ray Wisely, and Mark Anderson Phillips
whiteboard keeps being updated. Now, it’s about who knows what, meaning who is
vulnerable, who is safe. They turn the place upside down. And Scooter
returns. Wearing a coat. And gloves. But no one else has gloves.
Josh Costello and his admirable cast keep things electric, especially Jason
Kapoor, whose reality throws the feverish jugglings of everybody else into
vivid relief, fulfilling everything playwright Aaron Loeb has served up. If
only Loeb had served a full and satisfying conclusion – or even an inescapable
imponderable --- for ending his play, we’d leave the theater heads buzzing
instead of dissatisfied. Are these all too plausible ideations driven by a
reality? If so, what reality? And in any case, who’s to say, under these
conditions? Playwright Loeb owes it to himself – and to us –to find the
ideations that will click it all together for the Big Time.
59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street near Park Avenue. Tickets: $70.
212-279-4200. 90 min. Thru Apr 17.