‘Office Hours’ at Tipping Point giggles with absurd days at the office
NORTHVILLE, Mich.–In the program notes for Tipping Point’s Office Hours, one of the actors mentions being proud to help “you escape into genuine laughter” during these stressful times. And sheer silly escapism is exactly what the show has to offer.
The play, by prolific Ontario-born writer Norm Foster, is a series of vignettes which gradually become more than separate brief one-acts. Each cleverly ties together plot-lines and characters from the other segments.
The entire show takes place on one afternoon in six offices around a city, among various goofy entertainment folk, as well as the world‘s worst psychiatrist. It’s the kind of nuttiness where a just-stabbed character worries most whether the knife was dirty, washed-up or never-there film people delude themselves that their great concept is not already a legendary story, and harried executives and one salesman’s life revolve around their precious “Week-at-a-Glances.”
An energetic five-person cast fills multiple roles. Wayne David Parker is a bundle of compressed intensity ranging from a skittish, angry employee to a goofy alcoholic film director to a bemused father with an interesting secret. Kyle Mitchell Johnson ably takes on a diverse quartet of characters whose lives closely overlap.
Terry Heck is both a slightly diffident film producer (the woman in the room who knows better than the men who ignore her) and a mother whom no one can ignore. Sarah Hawkins Moan channels a trio that includes one of Those Bosses (you know them) to a betrayed wife to that terrible shrink.
And Ryan Carlson gets some scene-stealing moments, especially as a hapless but still somehow likable oaf who just can’t quit his dream job, no matter how ill-suited. His physical presence and mannerisms dominate the small room where he’s being fired.
Speaking of that intimate Tipping Point space, the staging also includes clever scene changes handled by the actors themselves. Director Beth Torrey has successfully conducted the cast through its quick paces.
Office Hours will not change the world. But give in to its farcical silliness, and it will help you escape the world of the stress and occasional absurdity of our work lives for a couple of hours.