Manbites Dog's The Receptionist | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

Manbites Dog's The Receptionist 

Women on the brink

click to enlarge Marcia Edmundson as the title character in The Receptionist - PHOTO BY ALAN DEHMER

The Receptionist
Manbites Dog Theater
Through Feb. 28

In Franz Kafka's The Trial, the victim of anonymous torment was a small-time bank manager. In Manbites Dog Theater's production of Adam Bock's The Receptionist, times have evolved enough that even the lowliest of underlings are subject to persecution. An increasingly dark comedy that combines the banality of evil with the banality of office life, The Receptionist is a nifty little mood piece that goes a bit slowly in its first part, but gradually builds to a chilling climax.

Manbites Dog veteran Marcia Edmundson stars as Beverly, the receptionist at the "Northeast office" of a enigmatic corporation. Beverly's inane existence involves putting people through to voice mail and engaging in small talk, either on the phone or with office-mate Lorraine (Katja Hill).

On the day that occupies most of the play, Beverly's routine is disrupted by the odd absence of her boss, Mr. Raymond (a very good Carl Martin), just as an envoy from the "central office," Martin Dart (Derrick Ivey), shows up looking for him. More small talk ensues, which becomes somewhat bigger talk after Dart leaves and Raymond returns. It seems that Beverly has been in willful denial about what her company does, and Raymond has had a crisis of conscience.

Needless to say, things aren't going to end well.

The Receptionist takes a while to get going, and it's at its best in the moments when the dark comedy and the deadpan comedy merge: It's a hilarious, unnerving experience to hear certain things discussed in the same manner that one might talk about a jammed copier.

Edmundson is excellent as Beverly, as is Martin as the broken Mr. Raymond, while Hill has a nicely neurotic presence as Lorraine. Ivey cuts a demonic figure as Dart (with his suit and slicked-back hair, he resembles the comedian Bob Odenkirk), and he also deserves praise for his scenic design of a convincingly bland office environment. The only two weaknesses in this show are the slowly paced first half and the use of Hitchcockian music during the scene breaks (it's a little too histrionic for such a low-key play).

The Receptionist cuts a convincing portrait of how a soul-killing job might eventually kill you. Still, it does seem like kind of a sweet gig if you get paid by the hour. We hear there might be openings at the Northeast office.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater



Twitter Activity

Comments

This looks wonderful! I cant wait until it goes on the road so we can see it in California!

by Michelle Nogales on Pioneering African-American Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler’s Empathy and Foresight Take the Stage in Parable of the Sower (Theater)

Spelling error for one of the owners of RRE: it's Rebekah Carmichael, not Rachel Carmichael. Also, the shows run between …

by J Robert Raines on Raleigh Room Escapes Slips Through the Keyhole Between Room-Escape Games and Immersive Theater (Theater)

Most Recent Comments

This looks wonderful! I cant wait until it goes on the road so we can see it in California!

by Michelle Nogales on Pioneering African-American Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler’s Empathy and Foresight Take the Stage in Parable of the Sower (Theater)

Spelling error for one of the owners of RRE: it's Rebekah Carmichael, not Rachel Carmichael. Also, the shows run between …

by J Robert Raines on Raleigh Room Escapes Slips Through the Keyhole Between Room-Escape Games and Immersive Theater (Theater)

your 20 sept review of playmakers current offering missed the boat, big time. the play portrayed all the characters as …

by Pointyhead on The Cake Edits Reality to Ignore the Everyday Consequences of Bible Belt Homophobia (Theater)

Oh, I'd be amused even without the in-jokes. These folks are having a great time, and the setting is transportive. …

by needsomeokra on Wants Upon a Time Is a Commedia Dell'arte Interrogation of What Happily Ever After Really Means (Theater)

The photo credit is incorrect. The photo was taken and edited by Areon Mobasher for Burning Coal Theatre Company. Please …

by Areon Mobasher on The Greeks Streamlines Sophocles’s Theban Trilogy Into Three Nimble, Strikingly Modern One-Acts (Theater)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation