The Office and the Metal Blob
nytheatre.com review by Kristin Skye Hoffmann
August 15, 2009
The Centrifuge has come up with something unique with The Office and the Metal Blob. In fact, it is so unique that it is difficult to say what the show is actually about.
It takes place in an office, that is certain. This office is very unconventional in that mail from corporate headquarters drops from the sky; but it is very conventional in other ways, i.e., interoffice affairs occur, people are dissatisfied with their positions at the company, some people are lonely, and people get periodic coffee breaks when necessary. The show has a narrator, GEM, played by a very animated Preston Martin. There are workers at this office, all of whom are looking for some sort of purpose in their lives. There is a kind of fem-bot named Roxanne, played by Barrie McLain, who has evolved out of a metal blob and has a "wealth of knowledge."
Certainly the ensemble is enjoyable—the group is evenly matched in terms of talent. They all have excellent comic timing and energy. They interact with each other very well. Each character has multiple quirks and those quirks make them endearing. Edna, played by Elizabeth Alderfer, is extremely aware of the germs surrounding her. She is also having an affair with Viktor, played by Ilya Khodosh. Viktor is a pretty normal guy except for the fact that he is engaging in an extramarital affair. Then there is Janie, played by Kate Weber. Janie is sort of the "office mom" and longs for a baby of her own. Weber is blessed with a very strong presence on stage and she is very easy to watch. Alex, played by Yung-I Chang, is a cocaine addict who has a taste for orange juice and a tendency toward violence, even though he appears sweet as pie. Stevo Arnoczy plays the supremely ambitious Reggie, who plans to climb the corporate ladder using his wealth of good ideas to aid him. Finally, there is Kim, played by Nikki Calonge. Kim "plays chess and kicks ass!" and she just wants to find a nice woman to become her lover. Calonge masters this character, mixing childlike fantasy with extreme dorkiness. This group is crazy, but fun to watch. There are some very impressive interactions while the crew "works," and the show's creator/director, Andrew Scoville, should be commended for choreographing them all so well.
When a metal blob, who is to become Roxanne the fem-bot in the distant future, is delivered to the office, it grabs everyone's interest. Somehow the blob can tell the future and become what each character desires. It can also create alternate realities, some of which we are allowed to view. With smart scenic design by Matt Gliva and a very, for lack of a better word, trippy projection show by lighting designer Andrew Neisler, the stage is set for what should be a very entertaining evening—and somehow, even though it is confusing from top to bottom, I found myself engaged. I truly wanted to know what it all meant. Sadly, I didn't find the answer by the end, so I will leave it to a quote from Scoville's director's notes:
"The Organization Man seeks a redefinition of his place on earth—a faith that will satisfy him that what he must endure has a deeper meaning than appears on the surface."
-William H. Whyte, The Organization Man, 1956
I may never know what Scoville was trying to tell me, but I'm sure I will be thinking about it for a long time to come.