What We're Up Against
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Theater review by Diane Snyder
“I don’t mind working with her,” says a male architecture-firm executive in Theresa Rebeck’s bitterly funny workplace comedy What We’re Up Against. “But she’s a bitch.” The she in question is the fiery, impatient Eliza (Krysta Rodriguez), who is not shy about asking for projects on par with those given to Weber (Skylar Astin), a man who was hired after her. But Eliza can’t even find solidarity with her only female colleague, Janice (Marg Helgenberger), and her boss, Stu (Damian Young), refuses to give her credit even when she solves an air-duct problem that’s had Ben (Jim Parrack) hyperventilating for some time.
This is prime Rebeck territory—driven characters locking horns in pursuit of a prize—and the current political climate makes this 1992 play, only now getting its New York premiere, seem frighteningly timely. As Eliza schemes to advance her career, Rebeck pushes situations to the verge of satire, and she doesn’t spare her demanding protagonist. What We’re Up Against is not as fully realized as Rebeck’s later works such as Seminar and Mauritius; the premise wears thin, and the characters can come across as mouthpieces for a message. But director Adrienne Campbell-Holt and her accomplished cast, especially Rodriguez and Young, send sparks flying as genders and generations collide.
WP Theater (Off Broadway). By Theresa Rebeck. Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt. With ensemble cast. Through Nov 26.