Desks piled high with folders and papers, this Manhattan office looks like it never sleeps – and the constantly ringing phones won’t let it. With each incoming phone call, these 20-something assistants struggle to keep up, feeling increasingly bogged down by the almost unrealistic demands of an intense megalomaniac.
With comedic flair, the realities of working for a demanding boss will come to life on stage as the University of Mary Washington’s Department of Theatre and Dance performs Assistance, the opening play for its 2016-17 season.
Performances will take place Sept. 29-Oct. 1 and Oct. 6-8 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 2, 8, and 9 at 2 p.m. in Klein Theatre, located in duPont Hall on UMW’s Fredericksburg campus. A sign-interpreted performance will take place Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. and Friday Night Out, a pre-show event where attendees will get a chance to meet the cast, will be hosted Sept. 30. An AfterWords post-show talkback with the cast will take place after the matinee performance on Oct. 2.
A comedy written by Leslye Headland, and based in a bustling Manhattan office, the employees find themselves more and more paralyzed by stress as they commiserate between phone calls that never stop coming. Finding camaraderie with each other, the group takes solace in the fact that the source of their stress, their boss, is never in the office.
“It’s an important play for students,” said senior and theatre major Madeleine Dilley, who plays Jenny, a vibrant girl from England. “You’re going to miss calls or forget to send checks. This shows that if you mess up in your job, it’s not the end of the world.”
All in good humor, the six-person cast certainly has their share of failures as they try to keep up with their demanding boss.
“It is exaggerated, but it’s also realistic,” said Alex Newton, a junior and theatre major who plays Nick. “There are times when people have bosses who ask you to do a million things and you just have to do them the best way you can.”
Assistance saw its first premiere in 2008 at the IAMA Theatre Company in Los Angeles. The show was later produced in 2012 at Playwrights Horizons in New York City, where it ran from February 27th to March 11th. The show has since been produced in regional venues around the country, including the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia.
Assistance is directed by Gregg Stull, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. Scenic and lighting designs are by visiting assistant professor Niffer Pflager and guest designer Catherine Girardi, respectively. Costume design is by guest designer Alicia Austin and sound design is by guest designer Jon K. Reynolds.
Tickets are $18 for standard admission and $16 for students, senior citizens and military, and $35 for Friday Night Out, which includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the chance to win door prizes.
For further information, call the Klein Theatre Box Office at 540-654-1111 or visit www.fredtix.com.