THE SITUATION ROOM
nytheatre.com review by Joseph Langham
The Situation Room is so very aptly titled. We enter into the
tidy yet tiny Bottle Factory Theatre and find ourselves in a room with
the possibility of many diverse situations. There is also a ton of
file/record boxes. For anyone who has ever filed for a living, this room
is a freaky nightmare. Four folding metal chairs, a table with the
standard lamp swinging over it, a typing table, and a TV on a metal
stand fill out the rest of the mood-appropriate set design. It turns out
to be a freaky nightmare for our characters as well. Or is it?
August 15, 2003
Here we meet our six characters in search of a missive. Sorry, couldn’t resist the absurdist pun. Actually, they seem to be more in search of the exit. We are apparently witnessing the inner workings of the amazingly perfect, absolutely infallible US Central Intelligence Agency. We meet the facilitator, Mr. Franks, the researchers, Dr. Rose and Dr. Gmatt, Secretary James (Secretary of ???) and the Stenographer. The sixth character is the silent messenger who seems to singularly possess the power to shift reality, as it is known in the Situation Room. The silent ones always say so much, don’t they?
The play is rife with darkly humorous protocol and policy. Basically, our characters are trying to find an effective way to strike terror in the hearts of our enemies by "adjusting" (which is the new protocol term for killing) innocents, allies and enemies alike. Whatever it takes to drive the bad guys into submission. They also spend an abundance of time tentatively and hilariously titling the many ridiculous projects.
While most performances maintain an even keel, two actors really stand out. Ted MacLeod delights as the overly frustrated and enthusiastic Mr. Franks, and Bristol Pomeroy’s portrayal of the confused Dr. Gmatt really shows an actor with a strong understanding of what it means to be absolutely and unwaveringly in the moment.
Garrett Kalleberg has written a play in the vein of the absurd that can best be described as a play for a thinking audience. If you don’t enjoy using your noggin in order to keep up with the progress of an intentionally repetitive play, go see one of the many musicals FringeNYC has to offer. If, on the other hand, you enjoy brilliant mental exercise, that likely will be doomed forever to the great, greasy off-off way, go see The Situation Room. It is dark, funny in an internal way, and very, very spooky.