Jim Simpson and the Flea Theater˙s resident company The Bats consistently stage exciting, challenging theater. Past productions of the Obie-winning Benten Kozo and an astounding production of Mac Wellman˙s unconventional confluence of bad language,
Cellophane, stretched the boundaries of avant-garde theater.
Here they tackle an expressionistic farce about corporate malfeasance and sexual high-jinks. It is fascinating theater — Simpson has a way of utilizing stage space to flush out the inner texture of a drama, actors flowing on and off the stage like dancers, dialogue pouring from them. It is performance art, or rather, “performance drama.” One character continually intersperses his conversations with a counting of numbers forward and backwards, as if in an existential attempt to make sense of the absurd corporate environment he finds himself in. Dread, comedy, eroticism, bewilderment, all become intertwined with sound and lighting cues.
Although I’m not sure Work has the heft it aspires to — Meehan seems to be saying something about the power and sexual dynamics of the corporate structure — it floats across the stage like Greek theater. Events deteriorate and unravel into chaos with chocolate stuffed in mouths and inevitable guns waved around. Corporate restructuring is ordered. Dragging around an old radio microphone Audrey Lynn Weston as “Hope Less” demands one of her subordinates (a former boss) fire a pistol into her leg. Her resulting bleeding and suffering closes the play (someone begins to whistle the Seven Dwarfs’ ‘Whistle While You Work’). The devious look of contorted evil on Weston’s face as the lights fade is chilling.
The Flea Theater, 41 White St. 212-226-0051