There is a plus side to our nation’s soaring jobless rate. Fewer folks will have to spend their days in the toxic company of ruthless and lecherous characters like the pair in playwright-performer Victor L. Cahn’s sporadically clever but routine Getting the Business. Even with downtown-theater luminary Susan Louise O’Connor commanding attention as a rung-climbing temptress, Cahn’s two-act two-hander is sketchy material that strains for novelty but ends up being business as usual.
It doesn’t help that it’s billed as “farce noir” yet fails to capture the essentials of either genre. After a promising start, in which bubbly babe Patricia (O’Connor) talks her way into a job with big-office executive Bert (Cahn), despite no references and the vaguest of résumés, the play soon falls prey to a series of repetitive scenes as Patricia goes from efficient secretary to viper disguised in high heels and a short, tight skirt. Not that Bert, an embezzler whom Patricia can send drooling with a few seductive leg movements, is one to win our sympathies either.
At least director Adam Fitzgerald keeps the interplay between his actors peppy, even in a climactic scene involving a bizarre bout of torture by foot-tickling (don’t ask). Through it all, the pixieish O’Connor is a kinetic force of nature, and Cahn makes a fine conductor, although he plays Bert as more befuddled than leering. If only his play were a conduit for commentary about the state of the modern workplace. Instead, it’s both underwritten and overwrought.—Diane Snyder