NY Review: 'Getting the Business'

at the Clurman Theatre

Reviewed by Sam Thielman

August 13, 2012


Photo by Jon Kandel
Why don't middle-aged men understand that it's creepy to write the role of a middle-aged man who gets seduced by a sexy girl (or boy, for that matter) and then cast yourself in the part? This is the question that hangs like a bad smell over Victor L. Cahn's "Getting the Business," for which the writer-actor has managed to snag the redoubtable Susan Louise O'Connor, lately the maid in the Rialto revival of "Blithe Spirit" and also a wonderful addition to "What to Do When You Hate All Your Friends," "See Bob Run," and a dozen other unfortunately little seen shows Off-and Off-Off-Broadway.

O'Connor is more than a match for Cahn in the workplace comedy, nonsensically billed as a "farce noir." The noir part is sort of apparent in the play's sleazy MBA-infested netherworld of an ad agency, where contemporary computers and references to email clash with guys who answer the phone "Howsaboy?" and store the few files that aren't in drawers on "disks," whatever those may be. Farce, though, it ain't.

It's not very convincing either, and there's never any doubt that Patricia, O'Connor's scheming secretary, is going to outmaneuver Bert, Cahn's blundering good-old-boy (s)executive. Director Adam Fitzgerald tries to sow some doubt just before intermission when Bert, brandishing a golf club, appears to be about to coerce Patricia into giving up the ultimate workplace perk prior to the blackout. When the lights come back up everything is back to normal, and we're left to wonder if we've skipped a few pages between the rapelike scene we just saw and the entendre-laden back-and-forth we're watching now.

O'Connor walks off with the play. It's a mercy that she's always on stage, typing away perkily or sashaying across the office in gigantic heels. She stays loose, which is a minor miracle given the tightness of Tristan Raines' costumes, and when she sinks a putt on Bert's fold-up practice green, she punctuates the shot—and her gotcha-now line—with a deeply satisfied "Boom!"

But beyond that there's not much to see. The plot never goes anywhere remotely unexpected, and I suppose the main attraction is getting another chance to watch O'Connor strut her stuff, literally and figuratively, however drab the setting.

Presented by Rachel Reiner Productions at the Clurman Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St., NYC. Aug. 13–Sept. 1. Thu.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (212) 239-6200, (800) 432-7250, or www.telecharge.com.
 

 
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