Dan Tomasik The Receptionist Nothing hurts more than seeing a professional miss their mark. Were it up to me every show would be a success. Alas, I do not run the world. The Receptionist is a case of good intention but bad execution. Everything is set up to give the feeing of a real office space, all the way down to the radio behind the desk that plays Tom Petty, Norah Jones, James Taylor, and Coldplay songs. Your imagination even fills in the bland office walls. Yet this production from the Community College of Rhode Island feels forced right from the beginning, as we listen to the office boss discuss fly-fishing as if it were a form of ethical serial murder. Confused? Not yet you aren’t. From there, we deviate into the goings-on of two office women as they answer phones and gossip with each other, with the odd joke awkwardly thrown in every so often. As new characters are introduced, their interactions with each other are often bland and forced. It is difficult to even decipher the clunky plotline, and the ending comes completely out of left field. You will walk away very confused and underwhelmed. Reply
Nothing hurts more than seeing a professional miss their mark. Were it up to me every show would be a success. Alas, I do not run the world.
The Receptionist is a case of good intention but bad execution. Everything is set up to give the feeing of a real office space, all the way down to the radio behind the desk that plays Tom Petty, Norah Jones, James Taylor, and Coldplay songs. Your imagination even fills in the bland office walls.
Yet this production from the Community College of Rhode Island feels forced right from the beginning, as we listen to the office boss discuss fly-fishing as if it were a form of ethical serial murder. Confused? Not yet you aren’t. From there, we deviate into the goings-on of two office women as they answer phones and gossip with each other, with the odd joke awkwardly thrown in every so often. As new characters are introduced, their interactions with each other are often bland and forced. It is difficult to even decipher the clunky plotline, and the ending comes completely out of left field. You will walk away very confused and underwhelmed.
First, persnickety stuff: check pronoun agreement (“watching a professional miss his mark?”) Likewise be careful using “you” when you might mean “a person,” “one,” or “the audience.”
On to more interesting stuff:You imply a failure to execute a concept, but I’m not sure what you theorize the goal might have been. You seem to have taken the banality of the show’s tone as a drawback, but what if it was necessary to communicate a point?
I think you are of course completely entitled to say that the play missed its mark, but I’m not sure what you think would have constituted a success.
I love part of your closing line- the phrase “confused and underwhelmed.” I worry about telling the audience how they will feel- you can say it’s how you felt, or even that “one will likely feel confused and underwhelmed” but one cannot predict precisely how others will feel.
You are correct, I am not sure what the goal of this was; I don’t even have a theory. I’m not even fully certain of the genre. I walked away with very little idea of what I’d just seen. I see the point of your comments about my clincher, I’ll definitely see what I can do about it.
A Deadly Catch- First Draft
By Samantha Norton
Often times, you can draw parallels between fly-fishing and life—if you catch a fish and it’s unharmed let it be free, but if the hook has pierced its gills, you must prepare it to die. While this idea isn’t relatable for some, for the characters of the original play The Receptionist, this idea is a reality.
From the moment Edward Raymond takes the stage, you are instantly hooked, not by who he is as a character, but by his indistinguishable career. You don’t know what type of business he is in, but it’s best if you know nothing at all.
Throughout Adam Bock’s play, Beverly the receptionist, and Lorraine a Northeast Office employee, have mundane conversations—from Lorraine’s narcissistic boyfriend, to Beverly’s tea cup collection—making it apparent that nothing illegal is occurring. This play intrigues you from the start and makes you question what are they hiding? More importantly, you wonder if this type of illegal government activity happens in today’s society.
Their type of business is one where once you know something, you are hooked in—if they believe you know nothing, they’ll let you free, but if you know something, you must be prepared to die.
I love the overall “hook” metaphor. you might even be able to play with it more in terms of what you and I know goes on in the plot (hopefully without spoilers of course!)
AS I said to Tom above, be careful not to use “you” in place of the audience. (Perhaps “One feels x y and z” or “the viewer” etc?)
I love the ominous way you hint at what is going on without telling us outright.
The piece seems to end abruptly, and I think it’s because you end on a plot point but not necessarily a production point. Perhaps your endorsement or non-endorsement of the play as a product being evaluated just needs to come through a bit more.
One light shined down from Cape Cod Community College rafters, focusing on a man, Edward Raymond. He speaks on his affinity to fly fish. He says he throws some back and he keeps some to eat, bleeding them out in the stream, the humane way. The stage then goes dark.
The Community College of Rhode Island’s performance of Adam Bock’s the Receptionist peculiar beginning is soon supplanted by a clandestine office, that of a Northeast division, of what is unclear. The desk of animated receptionist Beverly Wilkins is centerpiece where she and blonde coworker Lorraine Taylor engage in small talk. About twenty minutes in the dapper Martin Dart of the Central Office enters the scene. He hangs around, he flirts with Taylor but whom he really wants is Raymond who hasn’t been in.
This mysterious play percolates along with no serious spikes in action. Instead, maintaining the air of an X-files or Twilight Zone episode, reticent to reveal its intentions or those of it’s characters. There are signs, however, the absent Raymond who eventually arrives but never seems right, the mention of something going wrong with a client, and the feeling Dart knows something is up with this Northeast branch.
The Receptionist will slowly reveal itself; just make sure you’re ready to believe.
Really nice work here! Watch “who” vs. “whom..” Look out for that sentence fragment that starts with “Instead…” The last paragraph wants to be two short sentences, not one hitched together with a semicolon. But beyond these grammatical errors, the overall piece really hits the nail on the head. I think you succinctly describe the plot without giving away too much, make it clear how you feel and leave your audience with a clear opinion. I might wonder if too much time (percentage-wise, since it’s such a short piece) is spent on describing the opening monologue. (I personally found this monologue and the single mini-scene at the end to be my one quibble with the play, since I thought we could get the whole point without either, but I admit that may be just me.)
All in all, though, this is a really nice little spot, and I think it really gets to the point of what we hope to do!
Its what you know that can hurt you
A review on The Receptionist
Be careful with what you overhear, because they might just come and get you for it. Who are they you ask? Well, It’s unknown… they never tell the audience and leave it up to your imagination. The Receptionist utilizes the mundane in a comedic effect to mask the reality of what is going on in this stereotypical office. Inspired in a time where questionable activities happened not only in Guantanamo bay and Iraq but in the USA, while the reign on terror was at its peak. Adam Book created this play in 2006 in an attempt to draw attention to what many people ignored; the innocent people who never really knew anything in the first place. What made this seventy-five minute production so perfect was the casting of the actors. Most impressive was Erin Archer who played Beverly Walkins. Front and center for the majority of the play, hidden behind a desk she was able to reveal her character by just using her face. Also important to making this play a success was the hard work of not one but two dramaturgs, Billy Flint and Eli Herbert.
Nice work as always! Let me offer a few pointers: That fourth sentence is a bit of a clunker. I mean, I know exactly what you’re trying to say, I just feel it could be said a little more artfully and succinctly. Also, somehow I feel odd hearing about Gitmo etc as a sort of time in history (“inspired by a time when…”) since it’s so recent and, many would argue, ongoing. I laugh to myself here because there we have a sentence of my own that hopefully makes sense but could perhaps be more artful.
Finally, since you seem so impressed with the cast, it seems to me you may want to move their mention up a little sooner. Not much room to maneuver in such a short review, but still.
I can easily change the tense to “Inspired in recent times where questionable activities happen not only in Guantanamo bay and Iraq but in the USA.”
The Receptionist: a funny and frightening office comedy
By James Barcomb
Towards the back of the Tilden Studio Theatre in Cape Cod Community College is a small semicircular desk surrounded by a couple of waiting-room chairs, a water cooler, a table with a coffeemaker and the necessary additives, and two doors leading to unseen rooms. It appears to be an ordinary office….and, well, it is an ordinary office. But as Adam Bock’s dark comedy The Receptionist slowly unfolds, we learn that what goes on within these walls is not so ordinary.
Presented by the Community College of Rhode Island at the 2013 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, the success of The Receptionist hinges on a strong performance from the actor portraying Beverly, the titular receptionist, and Erin Archer delivers. Archer spends most of the play seated behind a desk, but her face speaks volumes, whether she’s interacting with Lorraine, her ditzy coworker, gossiping on the phone, or fearing for her own life.
The 70-minute play moves at a quick pace; what starts off as an amusing look at the ins and outs of a dull desk job takes a disturbing turn when the boss arrives and hints at the nature of his work. Characters start disappearing and the tension is ratcheted up to an unbearable degree.
Though the production is far from seamless (Brittany Boudreau’s performance as Lorraine is rather stiff), it works as both an engaging comedy and an unnerving thriller, thanks to a lively pace and Archer’s stellar turn.
Note of clarification: “is” in “well, it is an ordinary office” should be in italics.
Really well done, and yes, the italics would make a difference (here perhaps I need to note that I wish I could italicize “would!”)
Very minor quibbles here: I don’t mind the quick shot at one actor’s performance, given the brief amount of time allowed, but Dan might say (and I might agree) that it comes a bit out of left field, and in a longer essay would need a backup.
I do think the opening phrase seems a bit weak- do we need “towards the back” or does “in” or even the slightly more dramatic “somewhere in” do the trick?
A really strong piece, though- nice work overall.