“Glengarry Glen Ross” meets Enron in this office drama.
By Ellen Wernecke
The program notes for the dark comedy “Professional Skepticism,” the first production of the new Zootopia Theatre Company, mention that playwright James Rasheed based the show on his own career as a CPA. He deserves kudos for sticking it out that long, if this chronicle of an everyday audit gone nasty has any real-life precedent. Two staff accountants, weasely Paul (Matthew J. Nichols) and scrupulous Greg (Wesley Thornton), toil under a steady shower of abuse from their senior Leo (Steve French). Leo professes not to care about making it to the esteemed partner level, but Paul and Greg aren’t smart enough to hide their own ambition, if they even know how. When one of them finds major errors in the audit on deadline, it’s not a surprise that one of the team will sell the others out, just a matter of who’s going to profit.
"Professional Skepticism" is twisted fun, with an unsettling resonance for anyone who's ever thrown down the gauntlet in the name of office politics. The skepticism of the title -- what’s lost when personal relationships override business judgment -- is quoted as an advisory when Paul finds out Greg went out with a secretary from the firm being audited. But it’s a practice all of the accountants indulge in to keep them from going crazy in their claustrophobic office (the space of which director Kareem Fahmy uses every inch). Paul and Greg throw elbows to be assigned to a project with beautiful Margaret (Britney Burgess), the only accountant who seems to be having any fun, but she only has eyes for dour Leo. In this world, it’s better never to cash in that favor or do the downsizing math, because consummation means you’re just another company liability.
Till July 15, Dorothy Strelsin Theatre @ The Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex
312 W. 36th Street
Tickets $15-18, Smarttix.com
For more information, visit ZootopiaTheatre.org.
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.