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L-R: Michael Ray Wisely, Carrie Paff, Mark Anderson Phillips, and Ben Euphrat

                                             Photos by Carol Rosegg

                    By Eugene Paul


Bill 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 important.


Carrie Paff, Mark Anderson Phillips, Jason Kapoor, Ben Euphrat, and Michael Ray Wisely


In 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.


Michael Ray Wisely                                                          Photos by Carol Rosegg


Ted 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.


They 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


The 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?


And 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 not staying.


Carrie Paff, Michael Ray Wisely, and Mark Anderson Phillips


The 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.


Director 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.


Ideation.  AT 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street near Park Avenue.  Tickets: $70. 212-279-4200. 90 min. Thru Apr 17.